Shannon Airport seeks green light for solar farm plan

Airport says initial 5.5-acre site will reduce costs, guarantee energy supply and lower reliance of fossil fuels

Shannon Airport is looking to build a solar farm on airport land beside one of its taxiways

Shannon Airport has lodged plans for a 5.5-acre, 1.2-megawatt solar farm for the airfield at the airport.

The solar farm application is just one of five planning applications Shannon Airport Authority DAC has before Clare County Council as the airport prepares for passenger numbers to exceed two million in 2024.

It is separately looking to provide an additional 1,051 car spaces to serve the airport and expand departure gates at its terminal building in response to the rising passenger numbers.

The solar farm “will benefit Shannon Airport by providing a sustainable source of energy, reducing costs and promoting environmental sustainability”, a planning report by Tobin Consulting Engineers on behalf of the airport authority claims.

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Tobin project planner Seán Greene wrote that “by generating a sustainable source of energy, the airport can ensure uninterrupted access to electricity and reduce its reliance on traditional fossil fuels”.

The planned solar farm site lies beside the airport’s taxiway 12. An engineering report by Tobin highlights an area beside the planned solar farm for potential future expansion of the solar facility. That area is a multiple of the 5.5 acres for which planning is being sought.

The planned solar farm “is a critical step towards achieving Shannon Airport Authority DAC’s sustainability goals”, Mr Green tells the council. By leveraging renewable energy sources such as solar power, Shannon Airport “can demonstrate its commitment to environmental stewardship while reaping the benefits of clean energy generation”, he added.

In 2023, Shannon Group increased its pretax profits by 60 per cent to €31 million as consolidated revenues rose to €67.8 million. The group’s cash funds totalled €77.4 million at the end of last December.

A spokeswoman for the Shannon Group said capital expenditure for the various planned projects “will be funded from our own resources”.

Asked about the total capital outlay on the various applications, she declined to say, pointing out that the group is not in a position to advise on cost estimates in advance of completing the public procurement process and the planning process being completed.

On the additional 1,051 car spaces, the spokeswoman said: “The project is being undertaken to reconfigure existing space to deliver both a mix of new car park spaces and the reorientation of existing car park spaces to provide a better passenger experience at Shannon Airport.

She said the airport “would hope these projects would be tendered in July/August 2024, with a target completion time of Q2, 2025”.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times