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Northern Ireland Water opens £7M solar farm

Northern Ireland Water has completed work on its first solar farm, which will provide energy for Dunore Water Treatment Works in South Antrim.

NI Water CEO Sara Venning with GRAHAM's Leo MartinNI Water CEO Sara Venning with GRAHAM's Leo Martin

The farm, which cost £7 million to build, uses 24,000 solar panels to supply the power needs for the plant, which is one of the largest in Northern Ireland.

This project involved work on a 33-acre site on the eastern shore of Lough Neagh and the company said it expects to save over £500,000 annually in energy costs.

As well as meeting the energy needs of the Dunore WTW, the project will also enable the company to contribute spare capacity to the grid.

NI Water CEO Sara Venning said: "As the largest user of electricity in Northern Ireland, we are committed to finding innovative renewable energy projects to reduce our expenditure on power, which has already tumbled by £5 million over the last three years. 

"The Dunore solar farm is a major step toward reaching our goal of increasing electricity consumption from renewable sources from the current 13 per cent to 40 per cent by 2021. 

“As a company we operate nearly £3 billion worth of assets, all working to provide 570 million litres of clean drinking water and recycling 340 million litres of used water safely back to the environment.  Our commitment is to ensure we operate as efficiently and cleanly as possible, safeguarding our environment for future generations. 

“Dunore is one of many innovative renewable energy projects which NI Water is developing to ensure we become more energy efficient while also making cost savings to our business. This flagship project will also save around 2,000 tonnes of carbon every year.”

Leo Martin, civil engineering managing director at GRAHAM, added: “GRAHAM is delighted to have completed this major project for NI Water. It’s an impressive achievement, with 24,000 solar panels now helping to provide a peak output of 4.99 megawatts, with spare capacity going to the grid.

“Like all of our NI Water projects, the Dunore solar farm – where we also worked alongside our suppliers RPS, Greencells and Scotts Electrical – was only successful because of the openness of NI Water’s operational staff integrating with the GRAHAM team.

“This is the latest in a series of hugely successful collaborative projects between NI Water and GRAHAM. For example, working as part of the contractor team for NI Water’s Integrated Wastewater Framework, we delivered new-build treatment works, upgrades to existing treatment works, pumping stations and pipeline construction across around 100 separate schemes.

“We look forward to continuing our ongoing successful collaborative partnership with NI Water for many years to come and delivering lasting impact.”

NI Water is the province’s largest user of electricity and Dunore is its third largest site in terms of energy consumption, accounting for 7 per cent of the company’s annual usage.

Author: Robin Hackett, Deputy Editor, WWT and WET News
Topic: Innovation
Tags: Northern Ireland , solar , electricity , energy

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