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Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness officially opens SSE’s £125million Slieve Kirk Wind Park

20th November 2013
SSE investing £55million into local businesses and communities from Northern Ireland’s largest wind park

 

Martin McGuinness MLA, Deputy First Minister, is today officially opening Northern Ireland’s largest wind farm, Slieve Kirk Wind Park, in Co. Derry-Londonderry.

Developed by SSE Renewables to power Northern Ireland's second largest energy provider Airtricity, the 73MW Slieve Kirk Wind Park has been built at a total capital investment cost of £125million of which £36million has been spent directly with around 75 local supply chain businesses supporting local jobs and enterprise.

In addition to this total capital investment SSE is today confirming that it will pay out a further £18.5million into the local economy over the next 25 years through annual commercial rates payments, landowner lease contributions and community funding from Slieve Kirk Wind Park.

This brings the total local supply chain and community investment by SSE from Slieve Kirk Wind Park into the North West to £55million – the most significant community reinvestment by any energy company in Northern Ireland from a single wind farm.

Following the opening, Mr McGuinness attended a local economic benefit showcase for this major project during which the Deputy First Minister met some of the 276 workers who helped build Slieve Kirk Wind Park as well as representatives of some of the local supply chain businesses that have benefitted economically as a result of the wind farm. 

Slieve Kirk Wind Park is Northern Ireland’s first and largest grouped wind farm development. The £125million generation site has been delivered through the development of the original 27MW Slieve Kirk wind farm near Ardmore with a 46MW expansion of capacity developed at Glenconway Hill, outside Limavady. The wind park was developed by SSE Renewables, Northern Ireland’s No.1 renewable energy developer, in association with principal contractor Gaelforce Renewables, Omagh and Newtownabbey.

Slieve Kirk Wind Park is expected to generate around 200GWh* of electricity each year, producing enough green energy to power over 65,000 Northern Ireland homes. The green energy generated at Slieve Kirk powers Airtricity, Northern Ireland’s second largest energy provider, and will significantly decarbonise energy generation in the country, further contributing to Northern Ireland’s 40% target of renewable electricity generation by 2020.

 

Martin McGuinness, Deputy First Minister, said:

"This is the biggest wind farm in the north of Ireland and the green energy generated at Slieve Kirk will power 65,000 homes and significantly decarbonise our energy generation. It further contributes to our Programme for Government target to encourage achievement of 20% of electricity consumption from renewable sources by 2015.
"The building of this wind farm has not only contributed to our renewable energy target but also delivered economic benefits for local companies and supported local jobs.
"SSE has made an important contribution to the North West by investing £36million in the local community and businesses. The company has made a commitment to future community investment throughout the lifetime ofthe wind farm. This commitment by SSE demonstrates the real economic impact from renewable energy and reinforces the value of our green economy.”

The Deputy First Minister was accompanied at the official opening by Paul Cooley, General Manager Ireland of SSE Renewables along with Colin Nicol, Director of Onshore Renewables at SSE Renewables and Kevin McKernan, Phase II Project Manager, Slieve Kirk Wind Park.


Paul Cooley, General Manager Ireland of SSE Renewables, said:

"At SSE, we believe passionately in doing more to support the local communities in which we operate. Through the development of Slieve Kirk Wind Park we have been able to demonstrate this commitment to our communities by ensuring that local workers and the local supply chain can reap the benefit of this wind farm, not just during construction but also through to operation. That’s why we’re proud to have been able to invest £36million into local businesses through the construction of this wind farm, providing real economic support where and when it’s needed during these challenging times, and why we’ll continue to support the community in Derry-Londonderry for the 25 year lifetime of the wind farm through community payments totalling £18.5million. In this way, we’re leading the renewable energy industry and doing more to demonstrate the value that green energy can deliver in Northern Ireland.”


SSE’s £125million capital investment total at Slieve Kirk is a further vote of confidence by the FTSE Top 50 listed company in the Northern Ireland economy. Since it first entered the energy market here in 2008 with the acquisition of renewable energy developer Airtricity, SSE plc has invested £400million into the future of Northern Ireland’s energy infrastructure or about £220,000 every day for the last five years.

 

About the Slieve Kirk Community Fund

SSE is the industry leader in community funding to rural and regional economies and communities. Through the SSE Airtricity Community Fund, the company empowers communities to become greener and more sustainable. 

Since 2008, SSE has invested over £450,000 in community funding to around 130 communities around its Northern Ireland wind farms. More than 230 projects have benefitted from the SSE Airtricity Community Fund, including schools, community halls and sports clubs. SSE's Airtricity Community Fund makes the company the largest net contributor of any energy company in Northern Ireland to community energy efficiency projects.

Now in its second year, our Slieve Kirk Community Fund has already handed out around £75,000 annually to help fund 24 community-backed energy efficiency projects from areas such as Ardmore, Curryfree, Claudy, Dunamanagh, Dromahoe, Lackagh and Magheramason. With the completion of 46MW of connected capacity at Glenconway, the Slieve Kirk Wind Park Community Fund will increase to around £190,000 per annum further supporting local energy efficiency projects.

Additionally, from 2014 SSE will launch a new £115,000 Annual Regional Fund from the Slieve Kirk Wind Park supporting education, training and strategic projects. Alongside existing community fund arrangements, the Slieve Kirk Wind Park Regional Fund is yet another first by SSE for communities and for the renewable energy industry in Northern Ireland. Further details on the Regional Fund will be announced next year when the new Fund is officially launched.


† Projected generation and homes powered calculations based on typical annual consumption of 3,300kWh (Utility Regulator Transparency Report, Aug 2013) and 1 year average recorded capacity factor of SSE wind farms operating in Northern Ireland, April 2012-March 2013. Historic figures quoted are for guideline purposes only – actual future performance may vary.

 

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