NI has ‘no powers’ to meet decarbonisation goals

Northern Ireland has “no powers” to support its climate change goals, MPs have been told.

Members are concerned the sector will fail to meet the legally-binding target of 80% of energy consumption from renewable sources by 2030.

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee inquiry into barriers to renewable energy held its first hearing on Wednesday. MPs were told by the Utility Regulator that statutory powers in Northern Ireland are twenty years old, with the last major piece of regulatory legislation in Northern Ireland made in 2003. In the same time-frame, the equivalent body in Great Britain had fifteen pieces of legislation.

Steven Agnew from the sector body RenewableNI said renewable energy could help reduce costs for consumers, but that development had slowed. “Northern Ireland risks going from leaders to laggards in terms of renewables because we have had a policy vacuum now for effectively ten years. And where we connected 400MW in 2016 of new renewables, in the past five years we’ve only connected 86MW”.

He added: “So while the rest of the world is accelerating the renewables rollout, Northern Ireland has taken its foot off the accelerator and we’ve seen a downturn in investment”.

The potential for renewable generation was highlighted by Gareth Brown from the grid operator SONI, who said it was among “the only power systems in the world” able to handle 75% of renewable electricity at any moment in time. He added that the scale required to meet the 2030 goal of 80% of electricity consumption coming from renewable sources was “unprecedented”.

Read the full article by BBC News here.

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