IRELAND

Inspiring the next generation of solar experts with Uni visit to Crookedstone

Last week, a group of second year students from Queens University Belfast (QUB) visited Crookedstone Road Solar Farm, a project developed by Lightsource bp in Northern Ireland, providing sustainable, renewable power to Belfast International Airport (BIA).

This visit is an annual one, stretching back as far as 2018, as part of an ongoing positive relationship between Lightsource bp and QUB.

Aidan Collins, Head of Planning for the UK & Ireland at Lightsource bp, says: “With the solar industry growing at speed, and a huge pipeline of diverse and interesting careers required to service that growth, Lightsource bp is committed to engaging with students and young people to inspire the next generation of solar professionals. Visits like this one play an important part in that.”

Lightsource bp team members escorted the students around the project, discussing the science and technology behind solar energy generation and how that technology is evolving, including the need for co-located Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) with solar projects. We also talked about the rising need for renewable energy projects, and the process of getting planning permission for a solar farm, alongside the need for delivering biodiversity net gain and community engagement and benefits as well as green electricity.

The Crookedstone Road solar farm was connected in 2016, under a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Belfast International Airport for what was then the largest solar project to connect to a UK airport. Lightsource bp hard-wired a 4.84MWp (Megawatts peak) off-site solar farm into the Belfast International Airport private network – providing 27% of the airport’s annual electricity demand. The project was funded, installed and is now operated by Lightsource bp, with Belfast International Airport buying the clean electricity produced by the solar farm.

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