Director of RenewableNI, Steven Agnew, reflects on 2022 and looks ahead to what this year will bring for the renewable electricity industry in Northern Ireland.
Happy New Year everyone! I hope you had a nice break. as if January is anything to go by, 2023 is set to be a very busy one.
Last year saw the expansion of RenewableNI’s membership and team. We appointed our new Chair and deputy – Garth McGimpsey, RES, and Paul Carson, Strategic Power Projects. Jennie joined us as a Policy and Research Analyst, leading in Markets and Grid.
In March we were delighted to see two years of lobbying result in the Climate Bill setting a target of 80% renewable electricity by 2030, up for the 70% target set in the Energy Strategy. However, we know this target is at risk without change.
During the prolonged absence of the Northern Ireland Executive, RenewableNI has continued to engage with MLAs and senior civil servants. In June we launched a Programme for Government, setting out the need for reforms in the planning system. We were delighted with the number of MLAs that attended our Smart Energy Conference in October, and I have been to holding meetings with the political parties.
In 2023, RenewableNI will be taking an exhibition stand at the party conferences to ensure our messages reach the policy makers and influencers.
With local council elections expected in May, we continue to promote the positive impact renewable electricity can have beyond climate – paying rates, creating jobs and reducing consumer prices. The Power of Renewables posts show the benefit of community impact schemes and outreach programme.
This month we are busy with several consultations that were published at Christmas. These include the Draft Offshore Renewable Energy Action Plan (OREAP), which consults on planning, licensing, consenting and the development of offshore renewable energy in Northern Ireland.
We also have a route to market consultation, two planning consultations, and an energy strategy and consumer energy policy submission to the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly Committee C.
Thankfully, we are currently recruiting a full-time Policy Analyst, to ensure this vital part of RenewableNI engagement is well resourced.
We are delighted the renewable electricity seminar series will be continuing this year, kicking off with a session on the Energy Strategy 2023 Action Plan. After the success of last year’s Smart Energy Conference, we will be moving to a bigger venue. We will be in the ICC Belfast on Thursday 19 October, so make sure you save the date.
Thinking further ahead than this year, we are finalising the new RenewableNI strategy, setting out our vision and priorities for the next few years.
It is clear this is a busy and crucial time for the renewable electricity industry if we are to meet the ambitious goals we have set. I have consistently said we need to act now before it is too late. Our strategy will help ensure the renewable electricity industry lead the transformation Northern Ireland needs.
We know we can do it, and are looking forward to working together to achieve it.
Read more RenewableNI posts on the themes contained in this article. If you want to learn more about community benefit, follow the Power Of Renewables tag.