Ray of sunshine for future with first solar farm in Kilkenny

Ray of sunshine for future with first solar farm in Kilkenny

Did you know Goresbridge in North East Kilkenny is regarded as a sun trap.

So it's not surprising that Kilkenny's first solar farm is to be located there.

A major planning application has been lodged with Kilkenny County Council and with no serious concerns regarding solar power, unlike wind power, it is expected to get the backing of the local community.

Solar power has become the darling of alternative energy sources because it is low-impact and has become much cheaper over the years.

The project is on a single site comprised of just under 11 hectares (just over 27 acres). It consists of two fields in the townland of Grange Lower.

The panels will be fixed in position and arranged in south facing rows absorbing sunlight.

Existing field boundaries will not be disturbed and mature hedgerows will provide generous screening for the site.

Elgin Energy has contacted those neighbours in the immediate vicinity of the site and has offered to answer any queries which might arise.

The proposed project will help contribute to the national target of achieving 40% of all our electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

Elgin Energy is an Irish solar energy company based in Dublin which has successfully delivered 160MW of green energy across the UK in recent years.

The four megawatt (MW) facility will generate enough electricity for 1,000 homes and have a lifespan of 25 years when it will be decommissioned and the land returned to its original condition.

Elgin Energy are an Irish Solar development company based in Dublin. They have been developing similar projects in Britain for the past five years and have a portfolio of projects in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The facility is to be formed of a series of rows of photovoltaic panels which are mounted on static lightweight metal frames, facing south and set at about 0.8 metres off the ground.

The frames do not require foundations and are generally dug into the ground like fence posts while the panels are designed to absorb the sun, not reflect it.

The facility would also accommodate a small transformer station, switch rooms and a number of inverter substations to export the electricity to the national grid. The site will be screened with the existing hedgerows.

Sheep will be used to graze the land beneath and around the panels. The land would have a dual function and remain in agricultural production.

The panels are static (will not track the sun), are oriented south and designed to absorb and not reflect the sun. There will be limited noise during construction, which will take four months, Once operational, the farm will create no noise.

It will require little maintenance when operational and will be monitored remotely with few trips associated with maintaining the facility except those required for cleaning the panels or making minor repairs when necessary.

The maintenance of the grass beneath the panels will be done by the farmer and grazing livestock.

The impact of the development will be minimal and of no detriment to the surrounding area. It's an efficient and effective use of land, and will contribute to energy-generation targets in a clean and resourceful manner.

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