GRAHAM Construction has commenced work on a £7m scheme to develop a solar farm to supply electricity to Northern Ireland (NI) Water - the largest user of electricity in Northern Ireland - as part of its ambitious strategy to increase the use of renewable sources.
The facility is being developed on the shores of Lough Neagh, near to Belfast International Airport in County Antrim, and will power one of NI Water’s key water treatment plants at Dunore.
The 33-acre site will see 27,000 solar panels installed to power the plant, with any excess electricity fed back into the grid. The panels are capable of generating power on overcast days and in cloudy conditions can produce around a quarter of their generation capacity.
Sara Venning, NI Water’s chief executive, said the project will allow the company to cut costs and reduce its carbon footprint.
NI Water expects to increase its electricity consumption from renewable sources from currently around 13 percent, to 40 percent in 2020/21. It’s hoped this project will save £500,000 per year in energy costs.
The facility is expected to complete in March 2018.