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Solar farm to power NI Water plant

Northern Ireland Water has started building a £7m solar farm to power one of its key water treatment plants.

It is hoped the facility, on the shores of Lough Neagh, will be finished by March 2018.

It will see 27,000 solar panels built on a 33-acre site.

It is being developed next to the Dunore Water Treatment works, near Belfast International Airport in County Antrim. 

NI Water says the solar farm will power the plant and any excess will be fed back into the grid. It expects to save £500,000 per year in energy costs.

Chief Executive Sara Venning said it would allow the company to cut costs and reduce its carbon footprint. "It's a win-win," she said. 

It is the first time NI Water has developed a large-scale renewable energy option. Ms Venning said the company would look at the potential of doing something similar at other sites.