Northern Ireland unattractive to renewable investors – Accelerating Renewables report

Northern Ireland will struggle to attract investment or meet its renewable electricity 2030 target without significant reform according to a new report by RenewableNI.

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Northern Ireland will struggle to meet its target of 80 per cent renewable electricity generation by 2030 without significant reform according to a new report by RenewableNI.

Accelerating Renewables in Northern Ireland focuses on grid, planning and market issues, which were identified as key failures by the renewable industry.

The report was researched and written by KMPG, led by Russell Smyth, Head of Sustainable Futures, featuring input from across the Northern Ireland renewable eco-system.

Key findings of the Accelerating Renewables report are:

  • grid capacity is a primary concern for both new and operational assets;
  • an NI renewable electricity support scheme is vital to reinvigorate the market and reverse renewable development decline;
  • planning timelines are highly uncompetitive, there is a lack of clarity on planning decision timelines, and is cited as a major barrier by renewable developers.

Steven Agnew, Director of RenewableNI said: “In 2016 400MW of new renewables were deployed in Northern Ireland.  Since then, we have seen a huge drop off with only 70MW brought online in the last four years. NI has been without a support scheme since the closure of NIRO in 2017.   It is clear to see that a lack of support is having a major impact on development here. To put this into context last year ROI developed 20 times the amount of new renewable electricity generation.  They benefit from a support scheme, shorter planning timelines and a government committed to climate action.”

Report author, Russell Smyth, KPMG, said: “As part of this consultation, KPMG held individual and group consultations with various stakeholders in the industry.  We circulated a questionnaire to the wider renewable development community to assess market views on the attractiveness of, and the barriers to, them investing in Northern Ireland development. More than $350 billion of capital has poured into renewable infrastructure investment around the world in the first half of 2023, yet Northern Ireland has attracted virtually nothing in the past four years, with 82% of our survey respondents concluding NI is currently considered an unattractive investment location for renewables”.

Steven Agnew concluded; “We have some of the best wind resources in the world, with 51 per cent of electricity consumed in Northern Ireland coming from renewables in 2022.  However, we risk going from leaders to laggards. We only have a few years to make the vital changes we need to make our 80% renewable electricity target achievable.  This a legal obligation, therefore the recommendations in this report can’t be ignored.”

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RenewableNI, Northern Ireland, UK, investor, renewable energy, target, attraction, report, grid capacity, planning, timeline, net zero

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