On the 16th December 2021 Economy Minister Gordon Lyons published Northern Ireland’s new Energy Strategy – “The Path to Net Zero Energy” on behalf of the Northern Ireland Executive. The long-awaited energy strategy has been in development for almost two years and its development included formal consultation processes and engagement with stakeholders. So, what are the key points outlined within “The Path to Net Zero Energy”?
The key message within the strategy is that immediate action needs to be taken to reduce energy-related emissions within Northern Ireland which represent almost 60% of total emissions. The Path to Net Zero Energy aims to do this whilst ensuring that we have an affordable, secure and clean energy system for current and future generations. The strategy therefore sets out to mobilise the skills, technologies and behaviours needed to take us towards a long-term vision of achieving net zero carbon and affordable energy by 2050.
The Department aims to reduce energy-related emissions by 56% by 2030 relative to 1990 levels1. In doing so we will make a significant contribution to the Climate Change Committee’s (CCC’s) pathway to net zero carbon by 2050 and the Northern Ireland Green Growth Strategy. To make significant process towards achieving the long-term vision, two targets have been set to push forward the changes needed:
- Energy efficiency: Deliver energy savings of 25% from buildings and industry by 2030; and
- Renewables: Meet at least 70% of electricity consumption from a diverse mix of renewable sources by 2030.
Five key principles have been established which are central in the delivery of the energy strategy in Northern Ireland.
Placing you at the heart of our energy future: to make energy simple for everyone within society and to develop policies that enable and protect consumers through the energy transition.
Grow the green economy: creation of new jobs which will contribute to the growth of skills which will complement a low carbon economy through innovation, support and focusing on our competitive strengths.
Do more with less:set clear targets, standards and regulations to drive energy efficiency improvements. Provide support to consumers to invest in improvements to buildings and help them to reduce energy use.
Replace fossil fuels with renewable energy:phase out fossil fuels by growing indigenous renewables supported by sustainable renewable imports.
Create a flexible, resilient, and integrated energy system:create a flexible, smart, digitised energy system that integrates renewables across heat, power, and transport. Creating value for consumers and enhancing security of supply.
The energy strategy outlines several key policies which the department have identified may be applied in the delivery of each of the key principles. Some of the key policies identified include establishing a one stop shop, investment in green innovation, uplift of building regulations and a support scheme for renewable electricity generation. These policies will be crucial for the successfully delivery of the strategy.
The government’s Path to Net Zero Energy Action Plan 2022 was published on the 20th January 2022. The 22-point Action Plan sets out priorities for delivery to ensure that Northern Ireland starts to tackle the challenges ahead and maximise the benefits for our society and economy as soon as possible. The Action Plan highlights new initiatives in Northern Ireland including a £10m green innovation fund, a hydrogen centre of excellence and the establishment of a one-stop shop for energy advice. The Action Plan also sets out how the government will focus their efforts on increasing renewable energy within Northern Ireland. Which includes a new support scheme to enable the development of a diverse mix of renewable electricity technologies, which will involve consultations throughout 2022 to be delivered in 2023.