SSE - powering green investment in Northern Ireland

Since we entered the Northern Ireland energy market in 2008, SSE plc has helped to transform the energy market here becoming the largest provider of wind power to homes and businesses and investing over half a billion pounds so far in Northern Ireland’s energy future.

And the company, which is the UK and Ireland’s broadest-based energy utility and NI’s second biggest energy supplier, is continuing to invest. In the last year alone, we created over 100 new jobs at our Belfast Contact Centre and Corporate HQ; we unveiled a ten-year naming rights partnership at The SSE Arena, Belfast; and we launched plans to add to our existing 88MW wind farm portfolio with an exciting development pipeline of green energy projects already under construction or in planning.

Within two years we will add another 40MW of wind power generation to our operational portfolio. In Co. Tyrone we are currently constructing the 32MW Tievenameenta Wind Farm, due to be commissioned in 2017, while in Co. Derry~Londonderry we have planning consent for a 9MW extension to our Slieve Kirk Wind Park, bringing the total installed capacity at that site to 83MW in the same year.

Building on this construction pipeline SSE has plans for a £150million wind farm at Doraville in the Sperrins, a planning application for which is currently before the Department of the Environment. The proposed 36 turbine Doraville Wind Farm could generate 115MW of green electricity, with the potential to power around 85,000 homes.

As a responsible developer SSE has always been guided by the key principal of investing in the right renewable energy projects to help meet Northern Ireland’s 2020 decarbonisation targets while delivering an economic return and social dividend to the communities in which each of our projects is located.

With our Doraville project we are breaking new ground in delivering a sustainable investment that will not only inject £150 million into the NI economy during construction but that will also contribute a sustaining and long-term investment into the community. Over the project’s 25-year lifetime, Doraville Wind Farm will contribute over £100 million into Northern Ireland in gross value added spend, on top of almost £50 million in committed community benefit funds and local authority rates payments. This represents the most significant contribution that any wind energy project has ever had the potential to deliver to the local and national economy here.

However the potential economic return is not just limited to direct project investment. The announcement earlier this year in the Republic that US technology giant Apple is seeking proposals from renewable energy developers to power a new data centre in rural Galway signals a significant future investment opportunity that Northern Ireland should be seeking to exploit.

We know tech companies like Apple will locate multi-million pound data centres in locations where they can access green power sources. We also know there are estimates that this ‘green data centre’ push could add up to 1GW to renewable energy demand on the island of Ireland in the next five years.

At SSE we believe that Northern Ireland can lead this push. New wind farm projects such as Doraville will not only deliver regional jobs and investment directly associated with the wind farm, but they can also be the anchor that secures ‘green data centre’ investment into NI by clean tech giants.

This is an investment and growth opportunity that is within our reach here in Northern Ireland. As we have always done, SSE will continue to play its part in helping to unlock this opportunity for future generations.

About the author

Paul Cooley Director of Renewables, SSE plc

Paul Cooley is Director of Renewables Development for SSE plc and is responsible for the development and construction of all of SSE’s renewable energy projects across Great Britain and Ireland. He was formerly General Manager for Ireland of SSE Renewables. Paul joined SSE and the energy industry from the chemicals and manufacturing sector where he held various senior management positions including operational, regulatory and engineering management roles at DuPont and the Quinn Group. He has an Honours degree in Electrical Engineering from Queens University, Belfast.

Read more articles by Paul Cooley