Northern Ireland

Large solar farm gets green light in County Down

A worker inspects solar panels at a solar farm in Dunhuang, 950km (590 miles) northwest of Lanzhou, Gansu Province, Chuina Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Could the Downpatrick farm look something like this one in China?

Northern Ireland's first large-scale solar farm has been given planning permission.

The electricity generating facility in County Down is being developed by BNRG Northern Power in a £6m investment.

The 27-acre solar farm at Tullynaskeagh Road, Downpatrick, will be connected to the nearby NIE sub-station and national grid.

The company said it would be capable of generating enough power for 1,500 homes during its 30-year proposed lifespan.

Sean McMullan of BNRG said: "There is currently only around five megawatts solar energy produced in Northern Ireland, from mainly small-scale roof-mounted panels and none from large-scale ground-mounted solar farms.

"By comparison, England has approaching 2000 megawatts from roof-mounted panels and 1000 megawatts from ground mounted.

"We believe there is considerable potential for large-scale solar generation here, particularly as a genuine alternative to other forms of renewable energy generation such as wind."

It will take four months to install the 20,300 ground-mounted panels and equipment.

The company said the panels above ground would be about the height of a ceiling.

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