Solar farm to provide third of Belfast International Airport's power
Northern Ireland's first large-scale solar farm has been completed in Antrim.
Lightsource Renewable Energy, a major European solar energy company - headed by Antrim man Nick Boyle - is behind the scheme, which will now provide power to the nearby Belfast International Airport.
It will provide as much as a third of the airport's power needs and at its peak capacity could power 1,200 homes.
The 4.83MW solar farm is now connected directly into the private network of Belfast International Airport.
Nick Boyle, chief executive at Lightsource, said the new solar farm "represents another milestone for Lightsource and demonstrates the opportunities that solar energy presents for the whole island. The unique quality of solar power is that it is scalable and can be deployed very quickly and efficiently, as demonstrated by this project.
"This is the new world of electricity supply, which we are calling the solar revolution.
"Energy intensive businesses can now choose to procure solar electricity with no hassle, and Lightsource remains at the forefront of this exciting paradigm shift." And Alan Whiteside, operations director at Belfast International Airport, said: "Belfast International Airport is pleased to be working with Lightsource on this unique project.
"We will become the core customer for Northern Ireland's first solar farm via a private-wire connection.
"We're breaking new ground with this exciting venture.
"Not only does it give us the opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint, but it also means reduced energy costs while improving the integrity of our supply."
According to those behind the scheme, the solar project saves 2,100 tonnes of carbon emissions each year, the equivalent of taking 469 cars off the road.
And despite Northern Ireland's lack of sunshine, the panels still produce electricity on cloudy days.
UK-based Lightsource, which is the world's third largest solar energy company outside of China and also the biggest in Europe, announced last year that it was making a "significant" investment right across Ireland.
The firm both develops stand-alone solar farms and pairs with property owners who rent out their land to host solar panels.
It also installs and maintains the panels during their lifetime.
Meanwhile, just last month a wind farm which is capable of providing power to more than 7,400 homes opened in Co Londonderry.