A solar farm viewed from above, surrounded by farmland
Macallian Solar Farm, one of the newly energised assets. Image: Tom Ryan Casey Photography via NTR

European renewable energy specialist NTR has announced the successful energisation of eight clean energy assets across Europe.

The sites, a mix of wind and solar projects, are located in Ireland, the UK, France, Spain and Finland. Combined, the assets have a generation capacity of 268.5MW.

The UK assets include the 58.8MWp Ockendon solar project, which is located in Essex, with the farm’s 108,000 panels being built atop a 5 million tonne sealed landfill site. Meanwhile in Ireland, the Gorey Solar Farm and Macallian Solar Farm are now providing a combined 22.1MWp of power.

NTR has entered into a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Irish banking firm AIB Group, with the two farms providing up to 80% of the group’s power needs for its retail and office network of over 270 properties.

With these new assets online, NTR now has nine solar projects operating in Britain with a total generation capacity of 93.6MW, plus two co-located solar and battery energy storage system (BESS) projects operating in Ireland.

Rosheen McGuckian, CEO of NTR said: “Reaching energisation across these eight sites is a great landmark when considering the complexity of achieving this across five countries. I am immensely proud and grateful to everyone who contributed to achieving this milestone. The dedicated and highly motivated teams behind these assets play a pivotal role in our commitment to delivering the clean energy transition across Europe.”

Outlook is sunny for UK solar, but pace must pick up

With Solar Energy UK’s recent manifesto stating that the UK needs 50GW of solar capacity and 30GW of BESS capacity by 2030 to meet net zero goals, the race is on to get solar assets online.

Solar and infrastructure investor NextPower UK ESG recently energised its third utility-scale solar asset, a 24MW project in Essex, while Conrad Energy has energised a 45MW solar farm in Herefordshire. Several more major projects are in the development pipeline, with Windel Energy recently securing planning permission for a 9.9MW solar project in Wales, and Island Green Power’s proposed 480MW West Burton Solar Project awaiting final approval from the Secretary of State.

However, the future of major solar projects could be thrown into jeopardy by objections to solar development on potential agricultural land. Last month, Energy Security Secretary Clair Coutinho laid a statement before Parliament urging that solar projects should not be built on potential farmland over fears surrounding food security, with the chair of the Environmental Audit Committee Philip Dunne adding that “progress on solar energy must not undermine the UK’s ability to deliver a sustainable supply of food”.

Nonetheless, the development of renewable energy infrastructure, including solar and BESS, is key to the UK’s future energy security. Analysis from climate think tank Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) has revealed that switching to renewable energy “can halt the rise of energy import dependence, maintaining or even boosting the UK’s current level of energy self-sufficiency”.