A public consultation has been launched on a new Northern Ireland Energy Strategy.
The consultation document outlines the intention to support domestic and business consumers through the energy transition, providing incentives and establishing a ‘one stop shop’ offering impartial support and advice for consumers to make ‘informed and affordable clean energy choices.’
Economy Minister Diane Dodds commented on the announcement: “Climate change is one of the biggest issues facing society and we are also dealing with the economic impact of the pandemic.
“Whilst these are undoubtedly challenges for us, we must look for the unique opportunities to shape our future.
“We have seen the success that Northern Ireland has had in meeting almost 50% of our electricity consumption from renewable sources.
“In order to eliminate carbon emissions from energy, our business and domestic consumers will need to make cleaner, leaner energy choices which will include moving away from fossil fuels by switching to renewable technologies and doing more with less.
“These changes will offer numerous opportunities including the creation of new jobs, developing skills and encouraging local investment.
“I urge everyone to get involved in our consultation today, and together we can help shape an energy future that places your needs at the heart of Northern Ireland’s energy strategy.”
The consultation is based on five principles which will shape the energy transition:
- ‘Placing you at the heart of our energy future’: This principle seeks to make energy
simple for everyone in society and develop policies that enable and protect
consumers through the energy transition. Affordability and fairness are set to be key
considerations in all policy decisions.
- Grow a green economy: This seeks to provide economic opportunities and create new
jobs and grow a low carbon skills base through innovation.
- Do more with less: Seeks to set clear targets, standards and regulations that
drive improvements in energy efficiency. Consumers are to be supported to invest
in buildings and make changes that reduce their energy use.
- Replace fossil fuels with indigenous renewables to decarbonise
power, heat and transport.
- Create a flexible and integrated energy system: A ‘flexible, smart and digitised energy system’ that integrates renewables across heat, power and transport, creates value for consumers and enhances security of supply is set to be created.
The consultation seeks views on potential options for achieving net zero carbon and affordable energy, concentrating on the role that both domestic and business consumers alongside the energy industry will have to play.
Views are invited from all energy consumers on draft policy options that will support how Northern Ireland adapts to necessary changes within its residents’ day-to-day lifestyles.
The options consultation includes access to an innovative online interactive simulation, called the NI regional energy transition model.
This provides a representation of the major energy sectors and sub sectors which allows users – who could be anyone from industry to businesses to researchers to the public – to explore future changes to the energy system and to assess their impacts on current and future regional energy demand and associated CO2 emissions.
Alan Campbell, Managing Director of SONI (electricity transmission system operator for Northern Ireland), commented on the consultation:
“This is a pivotal time for the energy industry. We must seek to combat climate change and deliver an increasingly clean electricity supply, but must always have the consumer and the economy at the heart of our actions.
“Strong and ambitious energy policy is needed to ensure Northern Ireland can meet its climate obligations in a way which is affordable and does not compromise the secure and reliable electricity that consumers have come to expect.
“I welcome the publication of the energy strategy options paper by the Minister for the Economy and the public consultation in support of it.
“This is your energy, your economy, your environment and your future, so I would encourage everyone to have their say by taking part in this critically important phase of policy development.”
This consultation is now open, accepting contributions until 30 June 2021.
More information about the ‘Policy options for the new Energy Strategy for Northern Ireland’-consultation is available on the Department for the Economy website.