Securing clean cheap energy for Northern Ireland for decades to come

The Northern Ireland Renewables Industry Group (NIRIG) has today published an ambitious and far-reaching Energy Strategy which sets out a pathway to decarbonise the energy sector by 2050, promoting economic development and generating low-cost energy for consumers.

Rachel Anderson, NIRIG Chair and RES Head of External Affairs - UK and Ireland (Image: NIRIG / RES)Rachel Anderson, NIRIG Chair and RES Head of External Affairs - UK and Ireland (Image: NIRIG / RES)

Northern Ireland’s current Strategic Energy Framework has facilitated a world-leading energy system, achieving a rapid growth in low-cost, low-carbon electricity. Onshore wind is helping reduce electricity costs in the all-island Single Electricity Market, delivering savings to consumers. Each wind turbine represents £2.7 million investment in the local economy throughout its lifetime and local companies are developing world-leading renewable and storage technologies.

All the signs point to reaching our target of 40% renewable electricity target on time. However, as 2020 approaches, we need a new strategy which looks further ahead, taking account of rapid advancements in technology such as energy storage, and an increased demand for the electrification of heat and transport – including electric vehicles. The network needs to be modernised with smart, flexible and grid-friendly technologies and this needs a step-change in how we view energy regulation, demand and management.

The new Strategy document recommends a wide range of measures to create much-needed long-term policy certainty to enable us all to reap the benefits of renewables. These include setting a target for the decarbonisation of Northern Ireland’s energy sector by 2050 and NIRIG is already commissioning research into the creation of a 70% target for renewable electricity by 2030 as a stepping stone. A review of the impact of Brexit on energy policy is needed urgently, along with a renewed focus on the skills and innovation that will build the systems of the future.

NIRIG Chair Rachel Anderson said: “There’s an urgent need to plan for the post-2020 world in which clean energy will be an engine for economic growth. A more diverse, flexible energy mix will increase energy security, as well as generating cheap power for consumers. This brings enormous economic opportunities to Northern Ireland by attracting regional investment, promoting innovation and developing skills.

We now need a fundamental shift in how we generate, manage and consume energy. The transformation of the energy sector is happening today, and our industry is at the forefront of this transformation. The renewables sector wants to contribute, but we can’t do it alone – leadership and collaboration will be crucial for success. That’s why we’ve laid out a series of ambitious and far-reaching measures in this Energy Strategy”.

The new Strategy will be launched at Smart Energy Northern Ireland 2018 on Tuesday 24th April at the MAC in Belfast.

Press Office
NIRIG, RES; Northern Ireland, energy sector, decarbonisation

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