Alan Campbell Blog on COP27

18 November 2022

The recent United Nations COP 27 conference on climate change took place in Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt. Leaders from across the globe meet to discuss how they could make progress on climate action. Here in Northern Ireland we are also focused on how we can address climate change. Last year SONI launched a consultation ‘Shaping Our Electricity Future’  Shaping Our Electricity Future ( on our plans to fundamentally change the grid to achieve Northern Ireland’s clean energy ambitions, while maintaining an affordable and secure supply for consumers.

Since then the Northern Ireland Assembly has passed a Climate Change Act which sets a target of eighty per cent of electricity to be sourced from renewables by 2030. We are working towards this objective, one example of how we are doing this is the recent launch of the £39.5million ‘Energising Belfast’ project  The Project ( The SONI pre-construction elements have been approved for funding by the Utility Regulator. This will modernise parts of the transmission grid in Greater Belfast to prepare it for the future of electric vehicles and home heating using electricity. The project will also play a key role in increasing the security of electricity supply for Belfast. It is significant in its potential to enable the economy in Belfast and wider Northern Ireland to grow with cleaner electricity and help to deliver the Northern Ireland Energy Strategy and the 10X Economic Strategy.

This project will help in providing opportunity to deliver affordable clean electricity and to promote Northern Ireland as an attractive location for investment.  Our energy revolution will be based on Northern Ireland’s innovation, engineering and IT expertise.  Projects such as Energising Belfast allow our skills to flourish, build markets where we export those skills and innovations to the world and help enable a step change in the capacity in our electricity network.

A thriving city centre is vital to the prosperity of Belfast City and the region. This project will prepare the transmission system, ensuring Belfast is equipped to avail of the economic growth opportunities, as Northern Ireland transitions to net zero.

SONI has also recently announced the Mid Antrim Upgrade project. This will be essential in allowing more renewable energy sources to be connected to the electricity grid and ensure a clean and secure electricity supply for everyone across Northern Ireland. Importantly it will also remove costly bottlenecks on the grid and will strengthen the grid locally, making it more resilient.

These are just two of the projects which we are currently working on across the region. For each of these we consult extensively with the public to seek their input and support for our plans.  In early 2023 we intend to announce our plans for other projects which will also upgrade the grid and help us prepare for greater usage of renewables.

We know that people are using more electricity than ever before, as we make the transition to net zero, through increased use of technologies such as electric vehicles. Our work on security of supply is being done to address this and also reflects the global challenges which the energy sector faces through the transition of electricity grids around the world to net zero, increased demands for electricity and the knock-on impact caused by the war in Ukraine. It will take time to address this myriad of issues which are being faced across the globe. Our consultation processes with local communities and partnership working all require a significant investment of people and resources. But we know that this is the right approach and we at SONI are determined to play our part in this crucial work to address climate change and provide all our citizens with cleaner energy.