NI Water have dramatically reduced their carbon footprint by using 24,000 solar panels to complete a £7 million solar farm, turning what was a green field into a green power station, producing enough electricity to supply the power needs of one of Northern Ireland’s largest treatment plants - Dunore Water Treatment Works (WTW) in South Antrim.
This major project involved work on a 33 acre site on the eastern shore of Lough Neagh and is expected to save over half a million pounds annually in energy costs for the company.
As well as meeting the energy needs of the Dunore WTW, the project will also enable the company to contribute spare capacity to the grid.Commenting on the completion of the project, the company’s CEO Sara Venning said:-
“As the largest user of electricity in Northern Ireland, we are committed to finding innovative renewable energy projects to reduce our expenditure on power, which has already tumbled by £5 million over the last three years. The Dunore solar farm is a major step toward reaching our goal of increasing electricity consumption from renewable sources from the current 13% to 40% by 2021.
“As a company we operate nearly £3 billion worth of assets, all working to provide 570 million litres of clean drinking water and recycling 340 million litres of used water safely back to the environment. Our commitment is to ensure we operate as efficiently and cleanly as possible, safeguarding our environment for future generations.
“Dunore is one of many innovative renewable energy projects which NI Water is developing to ensure we become more energy efficient while also making cost savings to our business. This flagship project will also save around 2000 tonnes of carbon every year.”
As part of an engagement project with the local community during the construction phase of the contract, NI Water organised a competition with local schools, challenging them to “Save Water & Save Energy” for their local treatment plant. Laura Daly – a P7 pupil from St Joseph’s Primary School, Crumlin wrote the winning poem and the school enjoyed a visit to the solar farm.
NI Water recognises the opportunity that recent and future change in the electricity market and associated technologies represent. The Dunore Solar Farm is an important element in the company’s strategy to continue to deliver improvements for our customers and the environment.
NI Water is the province’s largest user of electricity and Dunore is its third largest site in terms of energy consumption accounting for 7% of the company’s annual usage.