International Airport green light for solar power deal

The Crookedstone Road solar farm (circled) is situated just a few hundred yards from Belfast International Airport
The Crookedstone Road solar farm (circled) is situated just a few hundred yards from Belfast International Airport

A green energy project supplying electricity to Belfast International Airport (BIA) has become the first ground-based solar power station on the island of Ireland.

The private network connection – between the solar panels at a site on the Crookedstone Road and the airport – will provide BIA with 27 per cent of its annual electricity demand, saving more than 2,000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year.

The 2,100 tonne reduction is the equivalent of having 469 fewer cars on the road.

Local biodiversity levels will also be increased as ecologists have been involved from the outset to help create a site that includes newly planted native hedgerows, wildflowers and the installation of bat and bird nesting boxes.

The company behind the solar farm, Lightsource Renewable Energy, said the investment said solar power can play a key role in Northern Ireland meeting Stormont’s target of producing 40 per cent of our energy demand from renewable sources by 2020.

Nick Boyle, chief executive at Lightsource, said: “The Crookedstone Road solar farm represents another milestone for Lightsource and demonstrates the opportunities that solar energy presents for the whole island.

“The unique quality of solar power is that it is scalable and can be deployed very quickly and efficiently, as demonstrated by this project. This is the new world of electricity supply, which we are calling the solar revolution.”

Alan Whiteside, operations director at Belfast International Airport, said: “We’re breaking new ground with this exciting venture. Not only does it give us the opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint, but it also means reduced energy costs while improving the integrity of our supply.”