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According to the Department for Economy (DfE), Northern Ireland has made good progress in rolling out renewables, accounting for almost 50% of total electricity consumption in 2020. As Northern Ireland proposes to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, major changes in how we make and consume all forms of energy are needed, including considering appropriate technologies and approaches. At the core of this transition sits an energy system, including electricity networks, carbon capture and storage networks, and probably hydrogen, which essentially will be a complex web of interaction that will need to be smart, flexible and consumer-focused.
The DfE is actively seeking views on how best to create such a system, as part of its consultation on options for a new Northern Ireland Energy Strategy. This feedback will help inform the policy direction, which will be launched at the end of 2021. In addition, SONI (System Operator for Northern Ireland) and NIE Networks have been seeking feedback from consumers and the industry as they too try to plot a path to net-zero.
Cleaver Fulton Rankin’s Energy & Renewables team were delighted to contribute at such a vital stage in the ongoing debate. The online roundtable discussion titled, ‘NI Energy Strategy Roundtable: Options for Creating a Flexible and Integrated Energy System’, chaired by Jamie Delargy, heard from a wide range of stakeholders and experts, including the Utility Regulator NI, SONI, the Consumer Council and many industry representatives, as well as academics.
The discussion highlighted a number of key points including, the opportunity to develop hydrogen generation as a means of harnessing onshore and offshore wind energy, and options for replacing oil and gas in our heat and energy systems.
Stephen Cross, Director and Head of Energy & Renewables at Cleaver Fulton Rankin added, “Our participation in such an important discussion for Northern Ireland Energy Strategy was a highlight for our team. We hope that the discussion with leading experts from across the sector will help inform responses to the Department’s consultation and inform the wider debate on Northern Ireland’s transition to net zero, and we look forward to policy direction being launched later this year.”