New research reveals the significant role renewable energy could play in future electricity generation in Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.
Energy Minister Nigel Dodds, today announced the publication of the findings of an Electrical Grid Study carried out by international experts on the potential for harnessing renewable energy here.
Minister Dodds said: “This extensive and highly regarded research will be of international importance and provides evidence for maximising the use of renewable energy in Northern Ireland. It offers vital information which will enable us to plan for a future in which electricity generated from renewable sources will play an increasingly important role.”
The Grid Study is a major technical research project which was jointly commissioned by the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment and the Department for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources in the Irish Republic. The potential scenarios it considers will inform future policy and investment decisions to ensure the electricity transmission and distribution systems for Northern Ireland are robust and flexible enough to absorb increasing amounts of renewable energy, particularly from wind.
The Minister continued: “Being on the periphery of Europe, with access to plentiful renewable energy resources, presents Northern Ireland with a unique challenge. We can make a significant contribution to the UK’s climate change goals by enhancing the amount of electricity generated from local renewable sources. This will reduce the harmful effects of greenhouse gases and help Northern Ireland’s contribution to both UK and EU targets. It will also reduce our dependency on costly imported fossil fuels and enhance sustainablilty and security of energy supplies.’’
He added: “Northern Ireland currently has a renewable energy target of 12% electricity consumption from indigenous sources by 2012. In looking to the future, and the very real concerns about the impact of climate change, it is clear that we must be more ambitious in setting future renewable energy targets. This study will inform that debate and help us make the right choices for our future energy mix.”
The scenarios in the study will inform Government and the industry on the ability of the electrical power system in the Single Electricity Market to handle additional renewable generation to 2020 and beyond. They will also build up a picture of the options for, and the cost implications of different energy mixes for Northern Ireland.
Mr Dodds continued: “However, the main source of renewable energy in Northern Ireland, the wind, cannot be relied on to blow all of the time and we will continue to need a balanced mix of fuel sources to ensure a reliable electricity supply for consumers.
“With the advent of the Single Electricity Market it makes sense to work with the Irish energy sector on the ability of the electrical power systems to handle additional renewable generation to 2020 and beyond. I will examine this report over the coming months, working with my counterpart in the Irish Republic, Minister Eamon Ryan and other stakeholders.”
The study consists of four principal work streams involving a study of renewable resources on the island; an investigation of the extent to which additional renewable generation can be accommodated onto the grid; consideration of the engineering implications for the transmission and distribution grids of additional renewable generation; and a summary report which also considers the potential impacts and benefits.
Source: Northern Ireland Executive
11 January 2008
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