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Delivering Ireland’s largest self-generation Solar project for pharmaceutical company MSD

MSD Ireland is one of Ireland’s leading healthcare companies, having first established here over 50 years ago. Currently employing over 2,800 people across its six sites in Ballydine, Co Tipperary, Brinny, Co Cork, Dunboyne, Co Meath, Carlow, and Dublin.

With a vibrant, dynamic, and patient-focussed culture across all Irish sites, MSD staff are highly committed to helping meet the medical needs of patients across the world. Ireland plays a very important role in MSD’s global network as its Irish sites now manufacture approximately half of MSD’s top 20 products, saving and enhancing lives in over 60 countries around the world.

MSD Ballydine was the company’s first Irish site when it was set up in 1976 and develops and supplies the active ingredients and final formulated product for a range of innovative medicines at its manufacturing and R&D facilities. The plant, which has been operating in Tipperary for over 40 years, exports to over 25 countries around the world.

In 2021, MSD announced its ambitious global goals to achieve carbon neutrality across its operations by 2025. These goals build on MSD’s long-standing focus of supporting the global effort to achieve the Paris Agreement goals by reducing demand for energy and minimising greenhouse gas emissions. As a company committed to environmental responsibility and sustainability, MSD Ireland needed a partner that understood its mandate for a low-carbon future and could deliver a project at scale to help them achieve their goals.

ESB’s Smart Energy Services, working with MSD Ireland, has delivered a “turn-key” Solar Photovoltaic (PV) project at the MSD Ballydine site. The development is Ireland’s largest “behind-the-meter” or self-generation solar project, meaning the energy that is generated at the solar project is fully consumed at the MSD Ballydine site. Solar PV panels and other renewable power-generating technologies, such as wind turbines, can all be used “behind-the-meter”, to reduce how much power needs to be taken from the grid by the business. The solar project provides MSD Ballydine with a sustainable source of energy and is helping them to meet their climate goals here in Ireland. Under the agreement, ESB’s Smart Energy Services have provided the up-front capital required to build, operate, and maintain the Solar PV system on MSD’s site. MSD will pay for the power generated by the solar array through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for the next 20 years. There is also a wildflower meadow of five acres on the site, helping to support local biodiversity.ESB’s Smart Energy Services has built a state of the art 7.3MWp ground mounted Solar PV array on the Ballydine site. The facility consists of 11,070, PV modules arranged in tables across the site. These are connected to 28 inverters which are connected back to a Smart Transformer Station, which in turn is connected to the local 10KV electricity distribution network of MSD’s site. This solution supports the site in significantly reducing its carbon footprint, in line with MSD’s ambitious climate goals. On-site Solar PV renewable generation is one of the most sustainable ways to reduce fossil fuel generated electricity. The journey to a zero-carbon world will require significant action, and projects like this represent a step forward in the energy transition.

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The Results

The solar project is now providing MSD Ballydine with a sustainable source of energy and helping the organisation to meet their climate goals here in Ireland.

· The solar project will supply the facility with approximately 7.9 GWh of clean energy in the first year. This is enough to power over 5,000 households with electricity.

· It is estimated that the system will generate approximately 7.9GWh of clean renewable electricity for the MSD site, ensuring up to 21% of the site’s energy requirements are now coming from renewable energy sources, contributing to a reduction in energy used from the national grid at the facility.

· The solar project will enable MSD Ireland to reduce its carbon footprint by 2,336 tonnes every year. This will equate to a carbon offset over the lifetime of the project (20 years) of nearly 47,000 tonnes of CO2.

· The annual CO2 reduction from the solar PV is equivalent to over 865,000 litres of Diesel. This carbon saving is the equivalent to removing 1,200 diesel cars from Irish roads.

· The solar project will do the work of almost 167,000 10-year-old evergreen trees to offset emissions.

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