In 2014, Tipperary County Council made headlines with Ireland’s largest Solar Photovoltaic Project. The panels were installed on fire stations, libraries, civic offices and leisure centres in a project which increased Ireland’s total PV capacity at the time by 44pc. So far into 2020, these PV systems have generated 123,808 kWh, saving €19,190, and reducing carbon emissions by 41 tonnes. Today the council is doubling its PV capacity, adding a further 250kW. Four more generating sites have been added including panels on two leisure centres and a ground mounted array on a landfill site.
Marion O’ Neill, Head of Environment at Tipperary County Council, said: “All local authorities have closed landfills which require significant investment in their restoration and rehabilitation, the installation of PV arrays at the Ballaghveny landfill site is an example of utilising our assets to support climate change by reducing energy costs and sourcing energy requirements from renewables”.
The difference between this project and the PV project 6 years ago is that excess electricity can be sold to Ireland’s only community owned renewable electricity supplier, Community Power. Community Power aims to be able to buy 100% of its electricity from community renewable projects and then sell that power back to the community. One of the founders of Community Power, John Fogarty declared: “It is our vision that every citizen and every community in Ireland can have the opportunity to really be active participants in the energy transition. For us, that means inspiring people to build their own renewable project, whether in a farm or on a roof, and then buying and selling that clean power to and from themselves. Of course, renewable energy displaces fossil fuels from the energy system, which is a huge benefit, but there are so many other benefits too. There are lots of owners so the economic benefits are shared widely, local jobs are created and tend to stay local, and communities can start to count on an alternative income stream.”
The panels at Tipperary County Council sites, including the array at the landfill site, will be live and generating electricity very soon.