A report launched today by RenewableNI sets the pathway for the elimination of fossil fuels from Northern Ireland’s electricity system, using existing technology.

The key finding of Achieving Zero: Pathway to a zero-carbon electricity system in Northern Ireland are: a target of 80% renewable electricity by 2030:

  • can be achieved at a lower cost than the 70% by 30 target;
  • Increasing the renewable electricity from the current 49% to 80% can be done using existing and proven technologies in NI;
  • will save end consumers £50m in 2030.
  • Cuts 75% of carbon emissions – from 2.8 million tonnes per annum to 0.7 million;
  • A zero-carbon electricity system is achievable in Northern Ireland in the early 2030s.

The analysis shows onshore wind alone can meet 59% of Northern Ireland’s electricity needs.  The “difficult hours” of no wind or light and high demand can be met using the introduction of long-duration storage and green hydrogen technology already used elsewhere.

Head of RenewableNI, Steven Agnew, said:

“Reducing power sector emissions by 75%, and eventually 100%, is not a question of resources.
“We have the investment, private and public, to develop the renewable energy and the infrastructure we need, and we can do it at a good price for the consumer.
“Today Northern Ireland generates almost half of its electricity from renewables, with wind and solar already established as the cheapest forms of new electricity generation. Globally, the prices of wind and solar are continuing to plummet and, with the right policy choices, prices will fall here too.
“We have the tools we need to decarbonise our electricity system if we choose to use them.”

Explaining the analysis behind the report, lead author, Dr Mark Turner, Director of Utilities, Energy and Resources at Baringa Partners, said:

“Once we get to 80% renewable electricity, additional measures need to be introduced to reach the zero-carbon ambition.  This includes long-duration storage, green hybrid and carbon floor plan.  We have based our figures on the highest levels of costs for implementing this technology in Northern Ireland.
“The usage assumption is based on SONI TESNI 2020 of 370,000 electric vehicles and 160,000 heat pumps in 2030.”

Read the Achieving Zero report.