SSE Renewables has called for the new Northern Ireland Energy Strategy to set an ambitious renewable energy target of 80% and a clear roadmap for the decarbonisation of the energy sector in the region.
The call was made today, Monday 5 October, and follows last week’s announcement by Economy Minister Diane Dodds MLA that Northern Ireland will commit to a target not below 70% by 2030.
Commenting, Barry Kilcline, Director of Development at SSE Renewables, said the new 70% target for Northern Ireland is welcome but added the region needs to commit to a more ambitious 80% renewable energy target if we are to ensure we meet net zero by 2050 and help drive a green recovery.
Barry Kilcline said: “We welcome the work undertaken by the Department of the Economy to develop a new NI Energy Strategy. Northern Ireland should use the opportunity of agreeing a new energy strategy to set an ambitious 80% renewable electricity target, that would build on the success of the region to date in harnessing renewable energy. An ambitious 80% target will ensure NI meets net zero emissions by 2050 and will also signal the intent of Northern Ireland to remain competitive with our neighbours across the UK and the Republic of Ireland where high targets have already been adopted.
“At SSE Renewables we’re committed to building a green, economic recovery with low carbon power and renewable energy at the core of that strategy. Our multi-billion-pound investments in new world-class renewable energy sites will help drive cleaner and more resilient economies in all parts of the, including here in Northern Ireland, and drive the transition to a net-zero carbon future.
“We believe that in creating the right environment for future investment in new low carbon energy to drive the transition to a net-zero carbon future, we will provide a vital economic boost, creating skilled, sustainable jobs. This will support a just transition here in NI and in all UK and Ireland regions, improving air quality and building resilience while also driving progress towards climate change targets.”
SSE Renewables is Northern Ireland’s leading renewable energy generator and operator, with over half a billion pounds invested in the development of its onshore wind farms here since 2008. The company’s 121.5MW of installed renewable energy capacity in Counties Tyrone and Derry-Londonderry generate enough green energy to power over 105,000 NI homes each year and offset almost 100,000 tonnes of harmful carbon dioxide emissions annually.
Barry Kilcline continued: “Energy policy in Northern Ireland over the last decade has become increasingly dominated by the role played by renewable energy. The construction of wind farms and other renewable projects saw the target of 40% renewable energy production achieved and exceeded ahead of schedule, bringing economic benefit alongside the benefit to consumers.
“By 2030 we should target a renewable electricity contribution of 80%, an ambitious but achievable target. To deliver on this ambition, Northern Ireland must activate a support scheme, which helps meet the up-front cost, along with effective planning and grid policy, similar to the schemes in operation in the rest of the UK and in the Republic of Ireland.
“At SSE Renewables we want to be part of a successful shift to a net zero carbon future, and with the right policy, support and external investment environment, we can play our part in helping Northern Ireland’s economy recover from the coronavirus crisis whilst taking climate action to achieve net-zero.”
SSE Renewables is presently waiting on a planning decision on a proposed £150 million wind farm near Cookstown in Co. Tyrone, which would represent its single biggest investment in the economy here to date. If approved, the 139MW Doraville Wind Farm would become Northern Ireland’s largest wind farm, capable of powering around 120,000 homes and reducing carbon emissions here by over 110,000 tonnes each year.
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