NI Water, which is the largest electricity user in Northern Ireland, has started work on a significant new £7 million solar farm on a 33 acre site in County Antrim.
The solar farm will supply electricity for NI Water’s Dunore water treatment works in South Antrim, which currently accounts for seven per cent of NI Water’s annual energy usage and is the company’s third largest site in terms of electricity requirements.
NI Water, which is a government-owned company, treats on average 320 million litres of wastewater every day, it also supplies 560 million litres of clean water each day for nearly 1.8 million people in the North.
The company said its new solar farm is expected to produce a peak output of 4.99 megawatts once completed and could save it more than £500,000 on energy bills in the future.
The company is also hoping that any spare energy generated at the solar farm can be sold on to the grid.
Sara Venning, NI Water's chief executive said as a major electricity user it is committed to reducing the impact of its energy requirements on the environment.
“NI Water expects to increase our electricity consumption from renewable sources from currently around 13 per cent to 40 per cent in 2020/21. This project will make a significant contribution towards our ability to achieve that stretching goal,” Ms Venning added.
The construction of the new solar farm is being carried out by Dromore headquartered GRAHAM Construction which expects to employ 30 people on the contract until it is completed next March.