Solar Farm to Power NI Water Plant
Construction has started on a solar farm that will be used to power one of Northern Ireland's key water treatment plants. The renewable energy development is being constructed next to the Dunore Water Treatment works, on the shores of Lough Neagh. It's the first time Northern Ireland Water has developed a large-scale solar energy installation, and they intend to invest in similar projects in the future. Current predictions estimate that the project will cost £7m and should be completed around March 2018.
The decision to make Lough Neagh their first project is a surprising one when you consider almost half of Northern Ireland's drinking water comes from Lough Neagh, through the very water treatment works the solar installation is set to power. On the other hand it was the ideal place to start. Northern Ireland Water have set a target of increasing their use of renewable energy from 13% to 40% by 2021.
Northern Ireland Water say that the Lough Neagh solar farm will consist of more than 27,000 solar panels, built on a 33-acre site. The solar farm will power the plant and, as is the case with most commercial solar installations, any excess energy generated will be fed back into the national grid. It is expected that the solar panels will save more than £500,000 per year in energy costs.
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