Ireland’s largest photovoltaic solar panel project was completed in October 2014. Nine public buildings throughout County Tipperary have benefited from the installation of solar panel arrays totalling 800 panels. Installations included fire stations, libraries, civic offices, and a leisure centre.
Joe McGrath, CEO, Tipperary County Council
Prior to 2014, Tipperary Energy Agency had successfully improved the energy efficiency of all public buildings in Co. Tipperary on behalf of Tipperary Local Authorities. This was carried out by improving insulation levels, replacing windows, implementing low energy lighting, replacing old heating boilers with biomass boilers, installing heat pumps, and implementing further smaller changes.
The Tipperary Energy Agency recognised the need to go a step further to improve the energy efficiency of public buildings and launched a restricted procurement procedure for photovoltaic (PV) solar panels for up to 12 public buildings in Co. Tipperary.
45 kWp of Solar PV during installation on Tipperary Co.Co. Civic Offices Nenagh
The tender included the design, installation, and maintenance of up to 199kW of PV panels and associated works on up to 12 Tipperary public buildings to eliminate base load energy use.
At their maximum output, the installations met the minimum day time energy consumption of the building, without any excess energy consumption being produced.
The PV base-load reduction project sought to eliminate 5-10% of the total annual units of any building and 7-12% of the cost of the bill for the buildings.
Live Output Data
Each PV system was required to have a display on the inverter demonstrating the minimum kWh being generated. In addition to this, a public display was included as part of the project to increase the educational value of the project with a display of real time production, cumulative total kWh, annual cost and the CO² impact of the solar panels which should also be integrated into the display based on real data. For larger installations, a data log was also required, providing information on peak power, the amount of solar electricity generated, the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, alarm faults, disconnections, fault protection trips, etc. This data had to be provided on both a daily and weekly basis.
The use of PV solar panels instead of traditional non-renewable energy sources meant that this project will offset a total of 91 tonnes of CO² emissions. It also will have a longer lasting impact as it will demonstrate to the wider public and private sector how PV is now a cost effective option in the Irish climate.
Paul Kenny, CEO of Tipperary Energy Agency, expressed satisfaction to have overseen the installation of Ireland’s largest PV project. “We’re delighted to have been involved in the first large PV project in the state. The increase in the number of organisations that are now installing PV has demonstrated that this Tipperary County Council project has been a catalyst for change”.