Belfast International Airport is to source more than a quarter of its total annual electricity demand through a power purchase agreement (PPA) with solar developer Lightsource.
The agreement will see Lightsource construct a 4.84MW solar farm near the airport’s site and hard-wire the power generated into its private work, meeting 27% of the airport’s demand.
Lightsource is to fund and operate the plant, while Belfast International Airport will purchase the electricity at a pre-agreed price for a period of 25 years.
Through purchasing the power directly from Lightsource, the airport will avoid paying non-commodity charges attached to utility bills such as subsidy costs. By 2017 estimates place these charges higher than the actual wholesale price of the electricity, and non-commodity charges could rise by as much as 3p/kWh over the next year.
Alan Whiteside, operations director at Belfast International Airport, said the solar farm also had the potential to meet all of the airport’s electricity demands during a peak summer day.
“We’re breaking new ground with this exciting venture. Not only does it give us the opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint, but it also means reduced energy costs while improving the integrity of our supply,” he said.
Meanwhile Nick Boyle, chief executive at Lightsource, said there was a “growing appetite” for renewables from industries across the world courtesy of “spiralling energy costs”.
“Large-scale PPA solar projects provide businesses with an opportunity to do just that by allowing them to fix their energy costs without the need for upfront investment,” he added.
Earlier this week Nick Boyle spoke to Clean Energy News regarding his firm’s PPA offering, and how the agreements promised to reduce UK PLC’s exposure to energy price volatility.