Ørsted starts construction on first Irish Solar Farm

With 81 MW capacity, phase one of Garreenleen Solar Farm will power over 29,000 households with green electricity.

Ørsted has begun construction on its first Irish solar farm, Garreenleen Phase 1, located 15 km outside of Carlow town.

Once completed, the 81 MW solar project will support the Irish power system to reduce its reliance on fossil fuel by providing green electricity on sunny days, while also generating enough renewable energy to power 29,000 homes.

Awarded a RESS 3 contract in September 2023, it’s expected that Garreenleen Phase 1 will be operational in 2026 and bring Ørsted’s operational capacity on the island of Ireland to almost 500 MW. As part of the construction, Ørsted is also installing the necessary grid infrastructure for phase two of the solar project which comprises a further 82 MW and is targeting offtake through the Irish Government’s onshore auctions.

Commenting on the news, TJ Hunter, Senior Director, Development & Operations in UK & Ireland at Ørsted, said: “I am delighted to confirm that we’ve begun construction on our first Irish solar farm. Solar is currently the fastest growing power generation technology in the world and essential for us to harness nature’s resources to create an energy system run on clean, reliable and renewable power.”

“2024 marks Ørsted’s biggest ever construction year with 1.5 GW of onshore renewables and 6.7 GW of offshore wind currently in construction across the globe. While Garreenleen is our first solar project to move to construction in Ireland, our strong solar pipeline currently stands at over 700 MW which gives us confidence that more will follow in line with the Irish Government's 8 GW solar energy target by 2030”.

Ranked the world’s most sustainable energy developer, by 2030 all commissioned Ørsted developments must have a net positive biodiversity impact. In support of this goal, Garreenleen Phase 1 has a dedicated biodiversity management plan. Actions under this plan include planting of over 1.2 kilometres of native hedgerows, which serve the dual purpose of providing screening and ecological corridors for local wildlife; enhancement of the environment along the river Burren bordering the site; and planting over 3 hectares of wildflower margins. In total, over 10% of Garreenleen Phase 1 will be ringfenced for biodiversity enhancement.

In addition, as part of the development, Ørsted will establish a performance-based fund for the benefit of the local community of approximately €240,000 which will be replenished every year once the project is operational.

Ørsted currently operates 378 MW of onshore wind across the island of Ireland, producing enough green power for over 246,000 homes. Ørsted’s Irish headquarters are based in Cork City, where it employs over 100 people.