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Belfast airport project to boost solar power: Vinci

Belfast International airport is to be powered by a new solar energy farm that will pump excess electricity into Northern Ireland’s power grid, French construction giant Vinci said Wednesday. Vinci, which runs the airport, said the project was part of its £100 million ($121 million) upgrade of 60-year-old Belfast International. Surplus energy generated by the farm “will be injected into the Northern Irish grid”, said Nicolas Notebaert, chief executive of Vinci Concessions and president of Vinci Airports. According to Vinci, which has operated Belfast International since 2018, the solar farm will on an annual basis generate 22.4 gigawatt hours of electricity and cut carbon dioxide emissions by 12,500 tonnes. The electricity generated is only a fraction, however, of the annual amount consumed in Northern Ireland, which stood at 7,420 GWh according to the latest official data. Nearly half of Northern Ireland’s electricity consumption is generated from renewable sources, with wind power by the far the biggest contributor. About one third of Belfast International’s electricity consumption is already powered by a small solar farm on the site. It is “economically sensible for us if you look at how power costs have spiked massively”, Graham Keddie, the airport’s managing director, told AFP. “Ultimately, the aviation industry has to be a leader. Whatever people say about climate change, the climate is changing, and we cannot sit back and let it happen,” he said. The solar project is part of a five-year plan to revamp the airport, recently ranked as one of the UK’s worst in terms of customer experience by consumer group Which. Construction of a new security terminal is underway with completion scheduled for June. The facility will include screening equipment that allows passengers to keep liquids and electronics in their luggage. Belfast International received 4.5 million passengers in the first nine months of 2023, according to Vinci.

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