Proposal Unveiled For Renewable Energy Plant

September 18, 2012 | 44 Comments

[Updated] At a press conference today [Sept 18], Sol Invictus Holdings Ltd. founder and investor Tim Madeiros, CEO of AES Bermuda, unveiled proposed plans for a 27 megawatt ground-mount solar panel system to be installed at L.F. Wade International Airport on the section of land known as “The Finger.”

The estimated annual energy production of the system would be 44.7 gigawatt hours, which is equivalent to 176 per cent of Belco’s projected additional required generation capacity, thus eliminating the need for an expansion of Bermuda’s existing fossil fuel powered electricity plant.

A statement from the Company said: “The 56-acre location of the proposed plant, which is not currently in active use, is ideal as it faces south, which would give the solar panels maximum sun exposure. It’s also near two interconnection points to the Belco transmission system. The proposed solar system would also utilize storage technology in the form of a battery bank to allow seamless integration of the energy generated by the solar panels into Belco’s electricity grid with no intermittency issues regardless of weather conditions.

“The process consists of energy generated by the solar panels being fed into the battery bank and drawn down as needed. When the previously generated energy stored in the battery bank decreases below an established threshold level, the system automatically sends a message to Belco to start an additional engine so that electricity continues to be available to Belco’s customers on demand as necessary.”

“I am extremely excited about the possibility of introducing a utility scale renewable energy plant to Bermuda,” said Mr. Madeiros. “This plant would represent an important step toward Bermuda becoming environmentally and economically sustainable.”

“The solar energy plant has the potential to create 200 jobs over the duration of the build. We have the capacity to begin building the plant tomorrow, which we think is good timing for my fellow Bermudians who are out of work. We expect Sol Invictus to employ 95 per cent Bermudians during the course of the build out of the plant, primarily those who are skilled in construction, and the company will be operated solely by Bermudians.”

According to the 2011 Bermuda Energy White Paper, the Government has established a target for 30 per cent of electricity to be generated by renewable energy sources by 2020. Sol Invictus would achieve 20 per cent of that target. In addition, the clean power generated by this new plant would offset 560,000 tons of dangerous carbon dioxide from the atmosphere that is equivalent to planting 290,000 acres of trees, which is 22 times the size of Bermuda.

“The Government of Bermuda welcomes plans to create renewable energy sources in Bermuda. The idea of Bermuda’s first utility scale renewable energy plant is very exciting and the Sol Invictus plan is consistent with the objectives of the Government’s Energy White Paper,” said Marc Bean, Minister of Environment, Planning & Infrastructure Strategy. “Energy sustainability is an issue we take very seriously on this island and we are committed to facilitating progress through private industry. Furthermore, the addition of 200 Bermudian jobs in the current economy is very welcome.”

The Sol Invictus plant would incorporate 83,000 solar panels.  “Not only are there environmental benefits to the Sol Invictus plant,” said Mr. Madeiros, “but the building of the plant has the potential to provide jobs immediately at a time when Bermudians are struggling the most. This project seems like a win-win for everyone and even positions Bermuda as a leader in the application of renewable energy in the Caribbean.”

Charles Dunstan, President, Construction Association of Bermuda, says: “We are pleased to see this sort of proposed investment in Bermuda’s infrastructure at a time when employment continues to decline. This is exactly the sort of opportunity that can materialize when entrepreneurs are provided with the right incentives to get creative. It is extremely encouraging to see development opportunities coming from sources other than the currently beleaguered traditional pillars of our economy. We hope that all of Bermuda supports this project, so that Sol Invictus can obtain the required approvals and provide some much needed employment opportunities.”

“We’ve been encouraged by Government’s policies to date in the renewable energy area and we think this plan helps everyone move to the next stage in our development as an island,” continued Mr. Madeiros. “We’re very excited to have developed an effective local plan in response to the White Paper that was released in December.

“Our next step is to obtain endorsement from the Government for Bermuda’s first renewable energy plant – built by Bermudians, and owned and operated by Bermudians. We’re really excited and we can’t wait to get started.

“At a time when local companies are increasingly seeking foreign investment ownership, we are proud to stand as a new Bermudian-owned and operated energy provider. The sunshine that falls on our shores is one of Bermuda’s longstanding natural resources and we feel that it is Bermudians who should benefit socially, economically and environmentally from this resource.”

Once approved by Government, Sol Invictus will move forward with plans to raise capital and begin installation.

Update 2.44pm: A BELCO spokesperson said: “BELCO has stated that we consider ‘the finger’ to be the best potential site for a large-scale solar energy installation in Bermuda. We would certainly support Government issuing a Request for Proposals to develop the site and would be pleased to work with the vendor that wins the contract.”

Update 6.32pm: Following the news this morning about Sol Invictus Holdings Ltd., Bermuda Engineering Company Ltd. said they submitted a proposal to construct a utility-scale solar photovoltaic power plant on the airport finger in November 2008. Read the full details here.

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Comments (44)

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  1. Request for proposals? says:

    Quote from the 2011 Bermuda Energy White Paper:

    "the Government will be responsible for the solicitation of new electricity generation capacity...

    ...The solicitation process will generally follow a period of consultation with key stakeholders to ensure any potential issues with proposed projects are identified, once complete a request for proposals will be issued and made available to the public.

    Responses to the request for proposals will also be made public together with the final decision and reasoning behind the decision."

    So where is the public consultation on this project, where is the request for proposals, where are the responses that we were promised would be made public?

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    • Sol Invictus says:

      This is a "proposed" plan from a private company and the RFP has not been issued yet so there is nothing on which to consult. This is a local company simply going public with their proposed plans.

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      • Swing Voter says:

        I wish Sol Invictus the best.....maybe they'll get a building permit approved by 2020 if recent ineptness, roadblocks, and redtape has anything to do with it....put the country first, vote OBA

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  2. Extraordinary says:

    We should think positive. So far this is a much needed step towards 'ACTUAL energy independence' Bermuda needs to embrace these ideas with positive feedback and responses. We need to move forward. Also, we should start making sure we have trained BERMUDIANS to service these new projects.

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  3. Chart says:

    Cost per KwH?

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    • Question says:

      Good question... will this initiative help lower our bill, keep it relatively the same, or increase it?

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      • engineer says:

        increase...anything green on todays market is more expensive. Solar panels have roughly a 15 year pay back period.

        while using fuel is bad for the environment, you really get more bang for the buck. Until we run out, fuel is currently the cheapest route to go.

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        • Catherine Kempe says:

          That's not true. My solar panels have a payback period of 10 years with a 25 year warranty and that payback pricing was based on pricing from last year. As energy costs increase, solar is more and more an affordable option for long term savings. Already with only a week of reverse meter to BELCO I've broken even with producing the same amount of energy that has been consumed in my house without modifying my energy usage at all.

          I love my solar panels.

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        • "Actual Engineer" says:

          yes, Increase.... based on North American energy rates and statistics (USA & Canada based) there's a 15 year pay back. Right now in Bermuda we pay on average 3 to 3.5 times more than our neighbours to the west for power, not to mention that fuel adjustment rates have increased 70% since july 2010. with fossil generated electricity at such high "retail value" this kind of pay back in Bermuda can be achieved in far less than 15 years....also with a system like this running in parallel to belco's reciprocating engines removes the need of belco firing up there ridiculously inefficient atmospheric-Brayton cycle gas turbines to meet peak power demands ....solar power would be a win for bermuda

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      • "Actual Engineer" says:

        probably not lower bills, this is private company trying to get a piece of belco's monopoly, at the end of the day what saving we would get from a facilty like this is just gonna go to the new companies pockets as profits
        ....also this company is gonna have to sell there power to belco and then belco is gonna sell it to us

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  4. This is a proposal that several private individuals have been working hard at for sometime and I think they need to be commanded for this venture as it can only benefit everyone in the long run but needless to say that there are those that have and are doing their damness to block it at every turn,so thankfully we may just see the outcome be more successful then the previous road blocks.

    Remember Telephone Co. had the monopoly on the phones in Bermuda and who would ever think we would see the amounnt of phone services we have today or options, ZBM and ZFB had the monopoly on T.V and who would have thought we would see the day of the likes of Satelite t.v and cable,so the list can go on. I always state that the cost of living in Bermuda does not need to be as high as it is and the greed has to be dealt with from top to bottom if we are going to survive as a country or become a welfare state.

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    • US Observer in Pink Sand says:

      I agree with you on thi statement Duane. Competition is amongst industry providers keeps costs lower. I have a few ideas I would love to present to Bermuda, as a born Bermudian.

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      • Please be careful who and when you present your ideas as we still have some cut throat people in existence in our business community and without calling names I would say to you and the readers about a business initiative that was proposed to Bermuda almost 15 years ago,the research had been done and the advantage of bringing this form of business had never been done before and so off to the bank two individuals went and they had backers and the collateral,
        only to be told that they still did not qualify for the amounts they were asking and that the business venture was a big risk for the banking institution to invest money in,well the individuals said they would go back and try to see how they can fit into the criteria that the bank gave them and come back when they have it all together and re-apply,to make a short story,in less then 6 months from that appoinment the loan officer knew some good investors and contacted them so that the loan officer would get his investors that they knew personally to look at this business oppurtunity and see if it was viable and it was, where am i going ,well you guessed it. the company open with the money from the investor and the bank officer who is now retired is part owner.so the bank officer made sure that the individuals who origionally applied was denied so they the friends of the banker and the banker can undermine and take the business idea for themselves and lined their pockets,this my friend is true facts and unfortunately names of individuals or business cannot be expose to to legalities.so the lesson learned here is if you have ann idea that is viable and never been done and you have business coonnections outside Bermuda that will assist you in bringing these ideas to Bermuda,make sure you have a sign legal agreement that you have exclusive rights for the entire Island in connection with the firm or company you are dealing with outside Bermuda,so in the event you can not bring it online right away due to lack of backing or collaterall then atleast their is an agreement in place that they can not do business with anyone else in Bermuda unless you walk away from the business venture.

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  5. David says:

    Wondered why Tim Maderios was canvasing with Vince Ingham, now I know.

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  6. Question says:

    Is that 20% of the 30% which is 6% of the total target for renewable energy or is that 20% of the entire target which would be 20% produced from solar power?

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  7. Just Curious says:

    Sounds good to me but I'm a little confused -

    The beginning reads - "The estimated annual energy production of the system would be 44.7 gigawatt hours, which is equivalent to 176 per cent of Belco’s projected additional required generation capacity, thus eliminating the need for an expansion of Bermuda’s existing fossil fuel powered electricity plant"

    Further down it reads - "When the previously generated energy stored in the battery bank decreases below an established threshold level, the system automatically sends a message to Belco to start an additional engine so that electricity continues to be available to Belco’s customers on demand as necessary.”

    So if Belco doesn't expand its plant where is the electricity going to come from when this renewable energy isn't available?

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  8. LOL (original TM*) says:

    No Problem with it as long as it's completely privately funded. Seeing the above relationship..."Wondered why Tim Maderios was canvassing with Vince Ingham, now I know." as posted above.

    LOL

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  9. Dawn de Toilet says:

    Nothing today is free...first look at the logistics and figure out the cost to the consumer- I guess anything is better than BELCO! Then look at job losses when BELCO has to shut down cause we now have something newer and cheaper. Lots of job losses cause we wont need the electrical repairman anymore. How sustainable will it be when we have hurricanes? What kind of damage will it receive and what time frame to get new panels on the island and how long to repair while we now have no power? There are a lot of questions that need answering. What about the wind turbines they had been talking about for the past 10-15 years?

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  10. engineer says:

    how about we go the cheaper route and convert BELCO to a CHP plant (combined heat and power. FOr those of you who dont know what this is.....

    If you see all the radiators (big fans) along that road behind belco..thats what im talkin about. Why are we usign electricity to power a fan to blow usefull energy away into the atmousphere?

    Would not be that hard to capture some of this energy to provide lets say...domestic hot water throughout COH (obv construction would be a B**CH and cost $$$ but would help reduce costsin the long run)...or use the heat to power a hi/low pressure multi stage steam turbine..which would generate more electricity and increase efficiency...

    So many ways conserve and/or be more efficient...Govt just needs to let this happen!

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  11. In Mark's Opinion says:

    This is the type of project that needs a SDO for the good of the Island.

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  12. Shawn S says:

    This is a great Proposal and will help some, but i for one would love to see that runway extended andopened back up for flys. So we can have another working runway which would hurt, cause many of us who travel alot know how flights getting cancelled or having to go back due to high cross winds.

    Those are some scary landing attempts.

    But again great idea.

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  13. Future says:

    This press release is a bit confusing based n the wording. It is essentially a blind proposal despite Timmy being "about the possibility of introducing a utility scale renewable energy plant to Bermuda". All he is saying is he wants to do this. That's it. For all the heat they take, BELCO brought folks here 5 years ago to put PV on the finger (plus wind turbines AND wave power off castle harbour). What has govt done with the permissions required to progress these? Jack all. Lots of hot air but NO progress. Nothing new. If we could capture the hot air, perhaps we coukd use that as renewable energy.

    This release, timed to coincide with belco hosting every Caribbean utility serious about renewables is interesting.

    Isn't anyone else concerned about the lack of detailed work behind this proposal? C'mon man...a $100,000,000 margin of error on a $200 or $300 million project? Since when was $100m an acceptable margin or error?

    And the details of how this replaces belco's needs remains to be seen. With 12 or more hours of darkness, those battery banks will need to be HUGE to make it through. But Timmy already admits it won't replace the required upgrades at belco when he says..."system automatically sends a message to Belco to start an additional engine so that electricity continues to be available". Replacement my foot. The BELCO solution costs $70million. The Timmy solution costs $300million AND still needs BELCO.....

    Which bill does the customer want to pay?

    Oh and then there is maintenance costs, operating costs, financing costs, insurance (hurricane anyone) costs....let's be real folks. This is an expensive and cute proposal....not a replacement for engines at belco running since 1970s...

    By the way does Sol Invictus Holdings Ltd. have permission to use that BELCO logo? Just asking.

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    • Edmund Wells says:

      I find Minister Bean's presence and comments more disturbing. While somewhat benign, his words can be read to give a leg up to Sol Invictus. That would be wrong, since there are clearly other interested parties, such as Belco and Bermuda Engineering.

      Alternative energy is critically important to Bermuda, and this appears to be one private company proposing a solution. That's great, but Government needs to commit to an open evaluation and selection process.

      EW

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  14. Keepin' it Real...4Real! says:

    Of course Belco has a hand in it ...how do u think the power would be transported ...its their wires, cables, transformers and so on. I just hope Belco doesn't have a BIG hand in it though, they're selling electricity and gas...Anyway i dont know all the logistics but GO for it TIM...its time for Bermudians to take back responsibility for OUR Island because apparently the people that get put on the Frontline(politicians) aren't carrying the swing, but thats a whole different story.

    forgive them my Father for they know not what they do....

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  15. Future says:

    The entire Ascendant Group, including BELCO, can be bought for a mere $125 million.

    http://www.bsx.com/TradingReports/17Sept2012.pdf

    Why, when they could own the entire grid for a small % of it, would investors buy a little 27 MW add on for $300 million?

    Just asking.

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  16. Curious says:

    This is electioneering at its very best!
    Look at some other solar plants in the world that generate the same MW-age (27).
    The Roadrunner solar plant in the New Mexico desert
    (31.8, -106.666667 lat/long)
    It produces 25 MW and measures 1.3km by 0.5km (Google Earth). By contrast the finger at the airport is generously 1.2km x 0.25km.
    How is it possible to produce more energy with less space in a region that is less bright then New Mexico?

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  17. Think About It says:

    Future.... If you think Belco's shareholders would sell the company for $125M you are sorely mistaken. Get a clue before you post such drivel.

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    • gmsgms says:

      Current P/E Ratio (ttm) 6.3830
      Estimated P/E (- ) -
      Earnings Per Share () (ttm) 1.8800
      Est. EPS -
      Est. PEG Ratio -
      Market Cap (M BMD) 124.08
      Shares Outstanding (M) 10.34

      These numbers are from Bloomberg for the Ascendant Group, the parent company of BELCO. http://www.bloomberg.com/quote/AGL:BH

      The market capitalizaton of the company is BMD 124.08 million. That is what the company is valued at by the market. Be definition, you could buy the company for that amount by buying every share outstanding.

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  18. Think About It says:

    Curious.... Check and see who the manufacturer of the panels is for the Roadrunner Plant and find out if they come with a 25 year efficiency AND workmanship GUARANTEE. The quality and efficiency rating of the solar panels is key to the ultimate output of the system. If you use cheap, old technology (which tends to be manufactured in China and costs less, and is available here on the Island from several vendors (not AES) you reap less in terms of output and there is NO efficiency or workmanship GUARANTEE on the panels. Garbage In, Garbage Out. It's pretty straightforward.

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    • Curious says:

      Think about it, that may be true. Solarpark Heideblick in Germany (48°32′13″N 10°25′27″E) is a little larger then the finger but produces 27.5 MW. It is modern Germany technology and was commissioned in late 2011.
      Problem comes when the cost is given at 50million Euros. And this is in Germany which has the specialization to install these cheaply. How much do you think the transportation and labour cost here in Bermuda would run the project up to?
      Double? Triple? Quadruple?
      So how much to you have to charge per kW to service your sizeable debt once repairs, maintenance, etc are factored in?
      If you have foreign investors are you possibly going to get the 10-15% return on equity that they would be looking for?
      Dont get me wrong, I believe that eventually there will be renewable energy here in Bermuda that provides a decent % of Bermuda's power requirements, I just see this as an electioneering stunt that isn't feasible in the near future.

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  19. Omhsford says:

    Think About It (AES/Sol Invictus) seems to hate things made in China...yet their panels are manufactured in the Philippines, and SUNPOWER is now building a cell factory in Malaysia.

    Also...

    The company, SunPower (SPWR-NASDAQ), now carries $820 million in debt, an amount $20 million greater than its market capitalization. If SunPower was a bank, the feds would shut it down. Instead, it received a lifeline twice the size of the money sent down the Solyndra drain. - Google!

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  20. gmsgms says:

    If anyone think a solar installation of this king in Bda will reduce our energy costs, they simply haven't done their research!

    Now if some folks are content to pay twice the going rate for fossil fuel derived energy simply to ease their consciences then please come out and say that. I, for one, am not willing to do that. What bothers me is that those who do want to pay more for their energy seemingly want to enforce that wish on all of us, with no consideration for what others may want.

    It is financial folly to expend more of one's (finite) economic resources on any good or service than one needs to. By definition, that will mean you have fewer resources to spend on other goods and services than you would otherwise. We must also consider the consequences of that path. What are we willing to forsake to ease our conscience?

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  21. Eugene says:

    Solar energy is just so sustainable that governments should be doing a lot more to make it accessible to the public. With advancements in technology we should all be taking steps to move toward greener energy, but large energy corporations are still too profit driven to make these energy sources financially viable for a lot of us.

    If anyone’s interested, this site has some great stuff on DIY Solar and wind kits as well as solar products (pre-made panels, chargers etc.):
    http://www.homemadegeneratorinfo.com/homemade-generator-products/

    If going with an energy company is too expensive for you, there’s still plenty of options that you can pursue on your own

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    • gmsgms says:

      "large energy corporations are still too profit driven to make these energy sources financially viable for a lot of us."

      So let me understand this.

      Are you saying that a group of individuals (the shareholders of corporations) should intentionally lose some of their investment, and get no return other than a pat on the back, in order that others, who do not and perhaps will not commit any of their own resources, can benefit from their efforts?

      If that is so, will you line up and contribute some of your hard-earned resources and capital? Or is that role only for others?

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      • Eugene says:

        From a business stand point, I completely understand the need to protect investors and their profits. But at the same time, if the government is trying to encourage us as consumers and the public to move towards greener energy sources then guess what? If what's on offer isn't incentive enough, from our standpoint then we also have a right to protect our own assets and wealth and refuse to spend....It goes both ways and effectively cancels each other out, hence it's just an ineffective solution.

        All I'm saying is, until greener energy becomes the norm and accepted into our way of life in society, it's still going to be expensive, unless you take action and start the trend yourself....by doing it yourself. People just don't have the knowledge at this time as the concept is only REALLY being pushed in the last decade or so.

        As always with new technology; affordably and feasibility trickles down the chain of
        state-> commercial-> and then finally to the public.

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        • gmsgms says:

          Eugene,

          I agree that the cost of green energy should come down if it's adopted to a greater degree and economies of scale kick in. However, I do not believe that the cost of energy from green sources will ever decrease enough to reach the cost of traditional sources of energy. There are various reasons for this that, short of repealing and amending the laws of physics and finding a way around entropy, we will not be able to overcome.

          Solar energy is a very diffuse source of energy. Oil is very dense. Oil is also both a source of energy and a fuel itself. We have to do very little to it in order to extract its energy for our ultimate purpose. Much has to be done with sunlight in order to convert it into fuel and a form that we can use. Sunlight is a low density or low quality source of energy and oil is the opposite. Solar power will never be as efficient a source of fuel as is oil and other fossil fuels, for this reason.

          Are we prepared to do away with high quality energy sources and move to low quality sources and incur the very high costs of doing so? That is the question that we should be honest enough to consider and answer truthfully.

          As for not having sufficient knowledge about this and that these ideas are, at this stage, just concepts that need development is incorrect. These concepts will draw upon laws of physics and energy that are very well understood by engineers and scientists. There is not much to be learned or developed there.

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  22. Cormack says:

    Over here in Ireland people don't take renewable energy too seriously and they really should we are one of the few companies in Ireland that are supplying solar panels and underfloor heating.

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