We got involved with The Defence Forces on five solar installations. But the project at Casement Aerodrome was the largest of them all. The defence forces have been shifting to a greener agenda, so they were installing lots of renewable technology like heat pumps as well as solar solutions. They asked us to look at all the buildings on the site of the aerodrome which might be suitable. But we quickly decided on Hangar 5. It had a west-facing roof slope and had room for 358kWp of solar PV – a really big installation.
Along with the size of installation, the hangar would regularly host prestigious aircraft like the President’s Jet. So, it also helped the Defences Forces show their sustainable commitments. But this also led to challenges in installing a large system over a working aircraft hangar. There were technical rules around what we could do. We had to take extra care with the packaging of materials and general restrictions around working on an active airbase. But it was exciting too and it proved our ability to work under the highest health and safety standards.
The project was a big success. In kilowatts, it’s probably making 300,000 kWh a year, which is 100 times bigger than a standard residential house. So, the Defence Forces are delighted with the result – in fact one of their senior people has referenced the project as a flagship one in seminars. And, it also attracted the attention of then Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, who praised the project in a tweet.