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Neoen energises Ireland’s first grid connected ground-mounted solar farm

Millvale Solar is the first large-scale ground-mounted solar farm to supply the Irish national grid

  • With a total capacity of 15 MWp and covering 25 ha, Millvale Solar will be fully operational by the end of May 2022
  • Millvale was among the winning projects in the first auction of the Irish government’s Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS 1), together with Neoen’s two other solar farms, Hilltown (18 MWp) and Hortland (25 MWp), which are currently under construction
  • Neoen also operates eight wind farms in the country, with a combined capacity of 53.4 MW, and is developing a portfolio of over 400 MW of solar and wind projects, allowing it to establish a strong presence in the Irish renewable energy sector

Neoen, one of the world’s leading independent producers of exclusively renewable energy, is pleased to announce its Millvale solar farm (15 MWp, County Wicklow) has been connected to the Irish national grid, just nine months after completing financing for the project. The farm will be fully operational by May 2022.

Millvale forms part of a portfolio of three solar farms fully owned by Neoen. The other two – Hilltown (18 MWp, County Meath) and Hortland (25 MWp, County Kildare) – are currently under construction. The solar farms were among the winning projects in the first auction of the Irish government’s Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS 1) in 2020. The energy generated by the solar farms will be sold under PPAs (purchase power agreements) supported by the Irish government via a CFD (Contract for Difference) mechanism valid until 2037.

Eamon Ryan, Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, welcomed today’s announcement: “I am delighted to see Millvale connecting as Ireland’s first grid scale solar project. This is a momentous occasion for Neoen, all those involved in the delivery of the project and particularly for the Irish electricity system and ESB Networks. This is the first of many solar projects expected to energise under the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) this year and an important starting point on our journey under the Climate Action Plan of reaching up to 2.5GW of solar on the electricity system by 2030. This government is 100% committed to switching at scale and at speed to renewable energy systems. The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme is one of the primary policies set out in the Programme for Government and the Climate Action Plan to address Ireland’s climate challenges over the coming years. RESS supports the growth of the green economy, creates sustainable work opportunities, and benefits citizens as renewable energy becomes more cost effective and replaces our reliance on fossil fuels.”

Cyril Perrin, Managing Director of Neoen Ireland, commented: "We are proud to be the first to supply the Irish national grid with solar energy, a milestone in Ireland’s strategy to diversify its energy mix. We are delighted with the speed at which we have been able to deliver this first project. I would like to thank Wicklow County Council and the main contractor Omexom, as well as its subcontractors and the local stakeholders – the farmers who own the land, the residents of Millvale, ESB Networks and our partner BNRG -– for the trust they have placed in us. The three new plants provide a solid foundation for actively pursuing further solar, wind and storage projects to drive our growth in Ireland.”

Nicholas Tarrant, Managing Director, ESB Networks, added: “ESB Networks is working to connect and facilitate up to 80% renewable electricity generation by 2030 as set out in the Government’s Climate Action Plan. This will be achieved by enabling new renewable generators connect to the electricity network, with the growth of grid scale solar playing an important part in delivering this target. We are proud of the excellent teamwork between our customer Neoen and everyone working for ESB Networks that has brought Ireland’s first grid scale solar projects from inception to final energisation. We congratulate Neoen on this historic achievement and wish them every success for their future projects.”

Xavier Barbaro, Neoen’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer , concluded: “Our team in Ireland has been present in the country since 2019 and I would like to congratulate them for achieving the commissioning of this first solar farm in record time. It once again shows Neoen’s ability to deliver on our commitments. Our long-term strategy, based on our develop-to-own model, will allow us to actively contribute to the Republic of Ireland’s energy transition with reliable, locally generated and above all affordable green energy.”

The construction of the solar farms has created around 100 jobs, with 11 local firms involved in the work. Sheep grazing will be used to control the growth of vegetation in the solar farms. The second of the three solar farms is set to be commissioned in the coming weeks, with the third to follow in the third quarter of this year. Together, they will generate enough electricity to power 12,700 homes and will prevent over 17,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.

A financial contribution to community projects will support local development initiatives worth around €100,000 a year for the duration of the RESS support. Neoen also operates eight wind farms in the Republic of Ireland, with a combined capacity of 53.4 MW and develops a portfolio of over 400 MW of wind, solar and storage projects, allowing it to establish a strong presence in the Irish renewable energy sector.