Solar farm to power Dale Farm’s cheddar business

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Dale Farm is soon to become a green energy leader in the global dairy sector following the confirmation of a new build ‘private wire’ solar farm in Cookstown, Co Tyrone – the largest of its kind on the island of Ireland and thought to be one of the largest in the dairy sector worldwide.

Working with CES Energy, a pioneering international provider of renewable energy, Dale Farm will switch to solar power for much of the energy requirements at its cheese processing facility in Dunmanbridge.

Construction is due to start mid 2017 on the 37 acre site which will be made up of more than 18,000 solar modules. Estimated to meet as much as a 20% of Dale Farm’s power needs, the 5MW solar farm will be connected directly to the private network of the business.

The scheme will also deliver considerable environmental gains. The vast energy reduction at the plant will save 2,460 tonnes of carbon emissions each year, the equivalent of taking 1,170 cars off the road.

Tom Marren, Chief Executive at CES Energy, headquartered in Dublin, said the new solar farm “is an important milestone for CES Energy” which demonstrates the opportunities that solar energy presents for the island of Ireland.

He said: “This project continues CES Energy’s focus on financing on-site energy infrastructure projects which provide cost savings for our customers globally. After nearly 20 years of delivering similar projects in Australia, Saudi Arabia and across the UK in the energy, water and waste sectors, we see it as a key solution for delivering cost efficiencies and reduced carbon for our customers.”

The new scheme will guarantee over 20 years of low cost, green power at Dale Farm’s cheese processing site and enable significant savings for Northern Ireland’s leading dairy company.

Nick Whelan, Group Chief Executive at Dale Farm, said the company is “breaking new ground” with this venture.

He said: “Dale Farm is delighted to be leading the way in the global dairy industry by powering our site in Co Tyrone with green energy. This will not only be the largest of its kind on the island of Ireland - we understand it will be one of the most significant solar projects supplying renewable energy to dairy producers worldwide.

“Dale Farm is committed to sustainability and the opportunity to procure solar electricity will aid the company in lowering our carbon footprint and in reducing our operating costs. We recently invested £7 million to further expand our consumer cheddar products operation at Dunmanbridge, now one of the most advanced facilities of its kind in Europe. There is a shortage of available electricity in the local area which, to date, has made our ambitious growth plans challenging. It is strategically essential that as a business focused on growth we have certainty of supply and importantly, capability of supply.

“The considerable savings delivered from solar power will be reinvested in the business to optimise efficiency across our processing plants, which ultimately adds to our ability to pay a higher milk price. Our core objective is to ensure that we carry on building a strong and viable business for the future, which we can continue to be proud of, and this new development is most welcome.”