Northern Ireland’s drive to net zero carbon and affordable energy strategy consultation launched

The drive towards net zero carbon and affordable energy will provide opportunities to create jobs and encourage investment.

That was the key message from Economy Minister Diane Dodds today as she launched a public consultation on a new Northern Ireland Energy Strategy.

The Minister said: 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.

Carbon emissions

“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.”

Five principles

The consultation is based on five principles which will shape the energy transition.  Energy users are of central importance to the future strategy, and “placing you at the heart of our energy future” is the fundamental cross-cutting principle, which aims to enable and protect energy consumers.

Other principles include, “grow a green economy” to provide economic opportunities; “do more with less” to drive improvements in energy efficiency; “replace fossil fuels with indigenous renewables” to decarbonise power, heat and transport; and “create a flexible and integrated energy system” to provide value for consumers and enhance energy security.

Options consultation

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.

Clean energy

And Managing Director of Northern Ireland Electricity, Paul Stapleton said: “As owner of the electricity networks in Northern Ireland, we understand the role clean energy has in reducing our carbon footprint and supporting economic recovery.  This ambitious paper shines a light on our path to delivering a sustainable and affordable energy system, and ultimately achieving net zero carbon.  I would encourage everyone to take part in the consultation.”

The Minister concluded: “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 will be open from 31 March 2021 to 30 June 2021.