What a year 2021 has been!

For our industry, we have seen the launch of a new Northern Ireland Energy Strategy.  I know across the RenewableNI membership, many hours have been spent to secure a 70% renewable electricity target for 2030, and that hard work has paid off.

If the past year has been sowing the seeds then 2022 should see our efforts come to fruition.  We will kick off the new year with two new local wind farms beginning to generate – the first to do so in three years. With over 1GW of onshore wind in the pipeline, this is only the beginning.

Our goal is not to simply to achieve 70 by 30, but to surpass it, and deliver over £3bn in added value to our economy, creating up to 1,000 new jobs in the process.

The Minister for the Economy has also outlined an ambition for 1GW of offshore wind.  In 2022 RenewableNI will undertake a comprehensive study as to what is needed to realise this ambition and how we can deliver the maximum benefit for local businesses and communities.

January will also see the first meeting of the RenewableNI solar PV working group, as we continue to grow our reach and our service to members.

We do not operate in a vacuum, and while Covid has not prevented us from providing solutions in the face of the climate emergency, we cannot ignore the impact it has had on each of us and those that we love.  We should continue to support policy makers who provide the guidance to keep us all safe, while working within our own organisations to ensure the wellbeing of our staff.  Let’s hope 2022 is a better year for public health, locally and globally.

RenewableNI will not be resting on our laurels, we must move from policy formation to implementation.  Targets are simply an indication of where we need to get to, not an end in themselves.  We will step up our efforts to ensure that Northern Ireland is an increasingly attractive place for renewable developers and that there is a clear message from our policy makers; it’s not onshore or offshore, it’s both.  It’s not large scale or small scale, it’s both.  It’s not wind, solar or storage, it’s all three.

This will be how we tackle the climate crisis and power a green economy in Northern Ireland.

Happy New Year!

Steven