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Minister Dara Calleary joins Statkraft & Microsoft to turn sod on energy provider’s latest solar project

22 May, 2023

Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, Dara Calleary TD, joined Statkraft and Microsoft on Thursday (18 May) to turn the sod on Harlockstown Solar – Statkraft’s latest solar project in Ireland.

The *34MW solar project in Co. Meath, which could power the equivalent of almost 9,000 homes, is one of several renewable energy projects being delivered as part of a Corporate Power Purchase Agreement (CPPA) package with Microsoft which was signed last year. Under the multi-year deals, Statkraft Ireland will supply the technology firm with 366MW of clean energy from six of its wind and solar farms. 

The CPPA establishes a Community Benefit Fund that will provide grants of approximately €1.3 million over the lifetime of the project to community-led clean energy and environmental justice initiatives to help create a brighter future, and make a difference in the communities that we operate in.

CPPAs enable corporations to procure renewable electricity directly from a renewable electricity generator and with these CPPAs, Microsoft is helping add additional clean energy capacity to the grid. The Government’s Climate Action Plan includes a target of 15% of electricity demand to be delivered from renewable energy CPPAs by 2030. This equates to approximately 6 terawatt hours of additional electricity generation.

Through its renewable energy contract with Statkraft and its other CPPAs announced in November 2023, Microsoft’s procurement will see the development of more than 900 MW of onshore wind and solar energy projects. The company is seeking to make a material contribution to accelerating the country’s journey to a net-zero future.

Speaking at the event, Minister Calleary, said: “Our future is both green and digital, and how we manage data will be a crucial to our decarbonisation ambitions. Renewable energy has a really important role to play in our fight to protect the planet, and I want to congratulate Statkraft and Microsoft on this important initiative. This new solar project has capacity to power the equivalent of almost 9,000 homes – Corporate PPAs have a real role to play in supporting Ireland’s renewable energy and climate targets, and I believe can be an important mechanism to support the wider system changes necessary in the electricity sector to deliver lasting benefits to households, businesses, and local communities.”

Kevin O’Donovan, Senior VP for Statkraft, said: “There is a growing understanding among the public of the importance of solar power to meet the country’s energy needs and security of supply. Every single solar panel installed means importing less polluting and costly fossil fuel while at the same time, bolstering Ireland’s future energy security.   

“There is no magic formula when it comes to climate action and meeting our 2030 targets. It will require a range of rapidly deployed technologies and solutions all working in harmony to decarbonise our electricity supply. For that reason, we are delighted today to be announcing the beginning of construction on Harlockstown Solar.”

Donal O’Sullivan, VP for Development and Offshore with Statkraft Ireland, added: “Between now and the end of the decade, we are going to have to use all the tools at our disposal to make the energy transition happen. Projects like Harlockstown contribute to Ireland’s ambition of delivering 15% of new renewable volumes via CPPA while showcasing Statkraft’s experience of sourcing alternative routes to market for its renewable energy projects.”

Eoin Doherty, Microsoft’s Cloud Operations + Innovation EMEA Regional Leader, said: “At Microsoft, we’re committed to becoming carbon negative by 2030. That’s why we’re proud to be partnering with Statkraft to bring additional renewable energy on stream and help the Irish Government to achieve its climate action ambitions. The development of the solar energy project at Harlockstown is one of many projects that are coming on stream as a result of 900MWs of renewable energy contracts that we announced last year, which is a significant contribution to Ireland’s renewable energy corporate power purchase agreement target. As the country works towards achieving a more sustainable future, Microsoft will continue to partner with the energy sector and Government to accelerate the growth of renewables on the energy grid.”