French energy giant EDF is buying eight solar-powered electricity generating plants in the Republic as it steps up its presence in the State.
EDF and Norwegian player Fred Olsen Renewables plan to spend more than €1 billion building a wind farm on the Codling Bank off the Wicklow coast.
The French company said on Thursday that it has bought Wexford Solar, a local business that plans to build eight solar farms around the Republic, with the capacity to generate up 100 megawatts (MW) of electricity.
EDF refused to say how much it is paying for Wexford Solar. However, industry sources estimate that the cost of building solar farms with the capacity to produce 100MW would be in the region of €110 million to €115 million.
Wexford Solar has planning permission for four of the plants, which also have deals under which they will supply electricity to homes and businesses at a pre-agreed price under the Government's Renewable Energy Support Scheme.
The four are Blusheens, with a capacity of 11.5MW, Coolroe with 7.4 MW and Curraghmartin with 5.7 MW, all in Co Wexford, and a 5.8MW facility in Co Meath. EDF intends building them in 2021.
The company's other solar farms are planned for Ballycarren, Co Wexford, Willville, Co Louth, Johnstown, Co Carlow and Athlone, Co Roscommon, which will be home to a 45MW facility, the biggest of the eight plants included in the deal.
EDF Renewables Ireland chief executive Matthieu Hue described Wexford Solar as an important addition to the group's Irish businesses.
The company intends to open a new, larger office in Dublin, where its head of Irish development, Kevin Daly, and six others will be based. All staff are currently working from home.