Northern Ireland consumers avoided paying £500 million to import gas last year because wind farms provided nearly 42 per cent of our electricity.

The figures come from a new analysis published today by energy specialists Baringa entitled Cutting Carbon, Cutting Bills: Analysis of savings in gas imports delivered by wind farms in 2022.

The Baringa analysis found that without wind energy in 2022, Ireland would have had to pay €2.57billion purchasing gas, and to produce the power by burning the gas.

The savings were particularly significant on days with extremely high gas prices and large volumes of wind energy on the electricity system.  On a single day – Tuesday 8 March – the combination of island wide high winds and soaring gas prices delivered a total avoided cost of €43 million in just 24 hours.

RenewableNI Director, Steven Agnew said:

“During the current cost-of-living crisis this report shows how vital investment in renewable electricity projects is to the consumer as well as the environment.  We are meeting the governments key targets of climate change and energy security while also providing a solution to the cost-of-living crisis.

“The gas industry itself has said they do not anticipate their prices coming down to pre-Covid levels, so we need to get off our reliance on fossil fuels and make the switch to renewables as swiftly as possible.  Only then will we see reductions to electricity bills.  This will also have a knock-on benefit to heat and transport costs as we electrify those industries.”

Addressing the Department for Economy’s announcement on the Statement of Intent, Steven said:

“RenewableNI welcomes the news today that the Department for the Economy (DfE) and The Crown Estate (TCE) have agreed a Statement of Intent, marking their commitment to offshore wind in Northern Ireland.

“The NI offshore wind sector is emerging as one of the most likely economic success stories of the decade.  In addition to generating enough electricity to power 1.6million homes, it can generate £2.4bn GVA and create 1,500 new jobs.

“It is invigorating for the renewables industry to see DfE and TCE laying the groundwork for building offshore wind leasing and realising these benefits for the people of NI.”

Highlighting challenges being faced by the renewables industry, Steven Agnew said:

“Renewables have done more than any other industry to reduce the rising cost of electricity, but we are also being penalised because of it.  The government’s new windfall tax begins this month until 2028, and last week an increase in rates of 80% for wind farms and 108% for solar farms was announced.  Effectively the industry is being double taxed on the costs.”

“We can’t overstate the importance of the onshore wind – we need to double the number of developments by 2030 to meet the Climate Bill target of 80% renewable electricity.

“We need to incentive investment in Northern Ireland to ensure we don’t fall behind the rest of Ireland and GB.  We have some of the best wind in the world, both on and offshore, which our members tell us is the only reason to continue to develop here. But combined with a planning system that isn’t fit for propose, creating extensive timelines for developers, it really looks as if the government is penalising their best choice for a cleaner future.

“We need more action, like todays Statement of Intent, as a sign of government and industry working together.  When we do, a cleaner, energy secure future is the reward for NI citizens.”

ENDS.

For media inquiries please contact Judith Rance, Communications and Events Manager, RenewableNI, Judith.Rance@RenewableNI.com, 07875-681-794.

Notes to editors

*While the calendar year figures are yet to be released, the “Electricity Consumption and Renewable Generation in Northern Ireland: Year ending September 2022” reported that 49.3% electricity was generated by renewable sources.

You can read the report Cutting Carbon, Cutting Bills: Analysis of savings in gas imports delivered by wind farms in 2022 on the RenewableNI Policy page.

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.