40 per cent electricity consumption from renewable sources by 2020 achieved ahead of schedule

Date published: 05 September 2019

The NI Executive’s target that Northern Ireland would seek to achieve 40 per cent of its electricity consumption from renewable sources by 2020, as set out in the ‘Strategic Energy Framework for Northern Ireland’, has been met ahead of schedule.

Permanent Secretary Noel Lavery
Permanent Secretary Noel Lavery

The statistical report ‘Electricity Consumption and Renewable Generation in Northern Ireland: Year Ending June 2019’, published by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) this morning, confirms that 44 per cent of all electricity consumed for the 12 month period ending 30 June 2019 was generated from renewables.

Commenting on the report Department for the Economy Permanent Secretary Noel Lavery said:

“This is a momentous achievement which has been accomplished by the collective efforts of a number of key stakeholders over a sustained period, and I am grateful for the considerable contribution of all the players in the renewable electricity industry, the investors and operators small and large, SONI, NIE Networks, Invest NI, the Utility Regulator and Ofgem.

“The Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation (NIRO) has been the main policy driver to encourage increased levels of renewable generation, delivering an increase in the proportion of renewable electricity consumption from around 3% when it was introduced in April 2005, to over 40% in 2019.  

"The success of the NIRO means that we now have a diverse energy mix which has strengthened our security of supply, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, lowered prices within the Single Electricity Market and delivered economic benefits including inward investment and jobs creation."

Looking to the future, Mr Lavery stated: “We recognise that achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 will require us to move significantly beyond 40%, and this is something that is being considered as part of the development of a new Energy Strategy for Northern Ireland.”

Notes to editors: 

1. The NIRO was introduced on 1 April 2005 and closed to all technologies on 31 March 2017 with exceptions to closure in the form of grace periods.  The grace periods have now passed and the NIRO is completely closed to new generation, however, those generating stations already accredited will continue to benefit for 20 years from their accreditation date or until 31 March 2037, whichever is earlier.

2. Whilst the Department for the Economy is responsible for policy and legislation in relation to the NIRO, the NI Regulator (UR) is responsible for the administration of the scheme and fulfils this responsibility through an Agency Services Agreement with Ofgem.

3. The Strategy Energy Framework for Northern Ireland sets out the direction of travel for energy policy to 2020. The future of renewables will be considered as part of wider work to develop a new long term energy strategic vision for Northern Ireland to 2050.The Department intends to issue a Call for Evidence relating to issues on a future energy strategy during the Autumn of 2019.

4. Further details on the Electricity Consumption and Renewable Generation in Northern Ireland: Year Ending June 2019 can be found on the News page of the Department's website. 

4. For media enquiries please contact the Department for the Economy Press Office on telephone number 028 9052 9604. Out of hours please contact the Duty Press Officer on: 028 9037 8110.

5.    Follow us on Twitter @Economy_NI

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