Future of Renewables in Northern Ireland – Report

Report commissioned by the NI government assesses the future of renewables in Northern Ireland

A Cornwall Insight and Ionic Consulting report that was commissioned by The Department for the Economy NI was published by the department last week. The report – Future-renewables-Northern-Ireland– provided an assessment of the current state of renewables in Northern Ireland as well as modelling for future renewable scenarios.

The commissioned report used extensive research on the outcomes of past policy, the current landscape of electricity in Northern Ireland as well as feedback from various stakeholders including national and local government, regulators and industry bodies. Cornwall Insight developed a high-level model to assess possible outcomes of different renewable electricity targets, including 70%, 55% and 40% by 2030.

Key findings

  • Although some onshore wind is likely to be created without subsidy support, it is questionable whether onshore wind would be able to meet renewable electricity targets of 55% or 70%. Therefore route-to-market support will be necessary.
  • Without the development of new generation assets in this decade, Northern Ireland could begin facing serious security of supply issues towards 2030 and beyond.
  • Diversity of technology is an important consideration from the perspective of both grid capacity and security of supply.
  • The ambition of the targets will have a material impact on the cost and extent of electricity grid build-out with forecast investment of between £388mn and £672mn required depending on the scenario.

Conall Bolger, Head of Energy Markets at Cornwall Insight, said:

“We were delighted to deliver this work with our partners Ionic Consulting. It was a complex and challenging piece of work. We developed a set of options and analysis to aid Northern Irish policymakers in their deliberation on the future of the Northern Irish energy sector, at a time when much of the information was not available, and the options were unclear. Since then, we have seen the process around the Call for Evidence on Northern Ireland’s Energy Strategy, the publication of Energy in Northern Ireland 2020 report and the scale of the ambition in SONI’s Tomorrow’s Energy Scenarios.

In developing our analysis, we engaged with a variety of stakeholders across Northern Ireland’s energy sector. The appetite for activity was evident; there are signs of real innovation emerging in both the renewables and flexibility space.  We thank the Department for Economy for giving us the opportunity to help contribute to their thinking and we look forward to working with all of our customers across Northern Ireland”.

Ken Boyne, Managing Director of Ionic Consulting, said:

“This was an interesting piece of work for us, and the collaboration with the team at Cornwall Insight worked very well. The publishing of this report by DfE is opportune in light of last week’s announcement of the Preliminary RESS 1 Auction results in ROI. There is a great desire amongst all the stakeholders in NI to move the debate on future energy policy forward, especially given some of the particular challenges in relation to the security of supply. In my opinion, the report is not intended to provide the answer but may help all interested parties to frame the question”.

Read the full report

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