SSE Renewables plans to submit a planning application for a 21MW solar farm project adjacent to its existing 27MW Richfield Wind Farm in the “Sunny South East” of Ireland.
This proposal, which will be sent to Wexford County Council, outlines the development of a solar array on a 44-hectare site in the Hooks and Yoletown townlands in south Wexford. The proposed solar site is situated near the operational 18-turbine Richfield Wind Farm, which has been in service since 2006.
The submission of this planning application follows a period of local public consultation held earlier this year regarding the project.
If approved, this hybrid co-located development, combining a solar farm with the existing wind farm, has the potential to increase the annual renewable energy output from Richfield by approximately 25%, sufficient to power an additional 4,500 Irish homes annually.
Furthermore, the integration of both wind and solar assets at this location would enhance productivity and resilience, allowing power generation for Ireland’s grid during sunny periods when the wind may not be blowing, as stated by the developer.
This could contribute significantly to Ireland’s goal of generating 80% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
The proposed solar plant will be connected to the grid in tandem with the Richfield Wind Farm. However, the project’s development is contingent on modifications to Ireland’s current grid connection approval process to accommodate “hybrid” technology grid connections, enabling the co-location of wind and solar energy sources.
The successful implementation of this project, including obtaining all necessary approvals, hinges on securing an economically viable route to market, with a final investment decision anticipated around early 2026.
In the event that all necessary consents are granted, SSE Renewables plans to dedicate 15% of the site area to native woodland species in accordance with its Biodiversity Net Gain objectives and the requirements outlined in the Wexford County Development Plan 2022-2028.
Garry Brides, Senior project manager at SSE Renewables, said “The submission of this exciting project for planning permission comes at a time when Ireland is looking to secure more renewable energy.”
“This project is a perfect example of how we can expand the renewables output for Ireland by leveraging existing wind farm assets for the development of adjacent solar farm projects such as this.”
“If co-located projects like Richfield Solar are to help deliver Ireland’s climate goals, industry will require more certainty as to how the regulatory framework will be evolved to support these developments.”
“At present, we lack the necessary policy to underpin these kinds of hybrid technology grid connections.”
“We stand ready to work closely with key government and regulatory stakeholders to remove any remaining barriers to the delivery of hybrid connections, and so support the delivery of important solar and battery technology projects co-located at wind farm sites.”
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