A total of 371MW of solar farms on approximately 2,000 acres (ac) of land is now exporting renewable electricity to the grid.

The generation figures were contained in a new report from the Irish Solar Energy Association, which details how 599,131MWh of electricity is now being generated annually from solar electricity.

This is enough electricity to supply close to 144,650 homes, displacing 202,127 tonnes (t) of carbon.

Mini-generation projects

There is now also 5MW of mini-generation projects connected to the grid. Mini-generation projects typically have a capacity of between 17kVA and 50kVA.

Kilovolt-amps (kVA) describe the maximum electricity demand that can be catered to by an ESB connection, but this value is, in most cases, similar to the size of a solar PV system (in kilowatts) that can be installed with that connection.

These projects are usually installed by businesses, farms and other commercial operations, but the electricity is typically used on-site.

The report also highlights how almost 60,000 homes in Ireland now have solar panels on their rooftops, with over 200MW connected to the grid. The ISEA states that up to 500 domestic grid connection applications, known as 'inform and fit' (NC6) applications, are being processed every week.

Ireland also has 95MW of what is known as autoproduction ground-mounted solar PV systems installed.

These solar panels are mounted on land rather than rooftops and do not export electricity to the national grid, but instead generate electricity for self-consumption by a house or business.

Much more to go

However, Ireland is only 8.5% towards its 2030 target of 8GW of solar, set as part of the Climate Action Plan 2023.

Speaking about the findings in the report, ISEA CEO Conall Bolger said: “It is incumbent on all stakeholders to work together to maximise the potential of solar in helping Ireland deliver a decarbonised electricity supply and to achieve the Government’s Climate Action Plan targets of 5GW of Solar PV Capacity by 2025 and 8GW by 2030."

Commenting on the findings of the report, a spokesperson from ESB Networks said: “By the end of 2023, ESB Networks expects that almost 1GW of solar will have connected from domestic roof top to utility scale solar projects.

"This makes the solar industry the fastest-growing renewable power source in Ireland.”

More in this week’s Irish Farmers Journal.