Solar energy firms ramping up investment to €750m

Danish company Obton and Irish partner Shannon Energy originally committed to €300m

Obton and Shannon will begin work on the first of its projects, Horsepasture, near Clonmel, Co Tipperary, in June. File photograph: Getty

Obton and Shannon will begin work on the first of its projects, Horsepasture, near Clonmel, Co Tipperary, in June. File photograph: Getty

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Danish energy player Obton and its local partner, Shannon Energy, intend boosting their investment in Irish solar projects to €750 million from an original €300 million, they will confirm on Tuesday.

The Irish company and Obton formed a joint venture last year to spend €300 million building solar farms, which use panels of specially manufactured cells to convert the sun’s heat to electricity, around the Republic.

Obton said the two companies now intend to increase the original €300 million to €750 million, which will double the amount of electricity that their solar power plants will generate.

The move will also increase the number of jobs their venture is likely to create to 2,000 workers from an initial 1,000, the companies said. Building the power plants will create most of that employment, they added.

Over five years, Shannon and Obton will now build solar power plants with the capacity to generate 1,000 megawatts of electricity.

Last year, the Danish-Irish partnership secured contracts from the Government’s Renewable Electricity Support Scheme for 11 solar power plants which bid for the deals through an auction.

The scheme is funded through a public service obligation charge levied on all electricity bills in the Republic. It guarantees prices to the cheapest generators of green energy.

Obton and Shannon will begin work on the first of its projects, Horsepasture, near Clonmel, Co Tipperary, in June. This plant will generate 8 megawatts of power, which it will begin providing before Christmas.

Overall, the partnership says the 11 projects backed by the State scheme will be able to generate 118 megawatts of electricity in total. They calculate that this could provide enough energy for up to 20,000 homes.

These first 11 projects will cost the joint venture €60 million to build. They are located in counties Wexford, Waterford, Cork, Longford, Galway, Offaly, Meath and Tipperary.

Multiple investments

Obton has invested in solar energy projects worth a total of €1.85 billion across Europe and Canada. It has operations in Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands and Poland.

Dublin-based Shannon Energy is involved in similar businesses in Ireland, Britain and western Europe and previously worked on projects in South Africa.

News of Obton’s and Shannon’s planned investment follows confirmation that French giant EDF intends to build its first three solar power plants in counties Kilkenny and Wexford.

Obton chief executive Anders Marcussaid the company’s deal with Shannon Energy had facilitated its investment in the Republic, adding that it looked forward to “expanding the role of solar” here.

Chief executive of Shannon Energy Noel Shannonsaid the venture is focused on finding opportunities to build solar plants on Irish farms.

The Irish company’s chairman, Gerry Shannon, described news of the expanded investment as a vote of “huge confidence” in the Republic’s green credentials.

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