Create a Vision for our Energy Future Urges Assembly Committee

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 14 February 2011

Reference: ETI 02/10/11

The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment presented its report into barriers to the development of renewable energy to the Assembly todayThe report urges Government to focus on local development of renewable energies or risk not being able to generate our own light or heat.

Committee Chairman, Alban Maginness, MLA said: “The Committee undertook this inquiry after local businesses said they were coming up against barriers to developing renewable energy products here. The Committee felt it was important to look into the issues and highlight these to Government for immediate action.

“During the course of our inquiry it became obvious that there is an urgent need for a clear vision for renewable energy in Northern Ireland. This vision must set out clear and identifiable targets by which we can measure our progress. Without this we face a future of unreliable and unaffordable energy supply.

“The Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment has a new strategy which sets a target of producing 40% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2020. However there is an over-reliance on wind energy to achieve this target. There is so much potential from other technologies such as biomass and geothermal [1] and we would like to see the Department considering these options. As it stands now, we are falling behind Europe in the development of these technologies. Not only is this worrying in terms of developing a variety of energy options, but we are also missing out on opportunities that would help grow Northern Ireland’s economy – opportunities that we cannot afford to miss in this climate.”

Deputy Chairperson, Paul Butler MLA added: “The Department’s target of 2020 is only nine years away. Yet we have repeatedly heard how the necessary infrastructure and connections with the South do not exist to enable this target to be met. Delays with the planning decision on the North-South Interconnector cannot be allowed to continue or we will have failed before we even get started.

“To be frank, if we do not sit up and take notice we will wake up one day to find we cannot switch on the lights, or heat our homes. Furthermore, our European neighbours will be reaping the benefits as we look to them to supply us with the energy we need, and should have been able to produce ourselves.”