Alan Campbell, Managing Director, SONI, writes:
It’s hard to believe we’re almost at the end of our fourteen-week public consultation on Shaping Our Electricity Future, which looks at how we prepare the electricity transmission grid, wholesale markets and our operation of the transmission system, to facilitate higher levels of renewable energy over the next ten years and beyond.
When we launched the consultation in early March our main aim was to gather as much feedback as possible and encourage everyone to have their say.
"There is a good reason why Shaping Our Electricity Future is the most extensive public consultation we have ever undertaken"
Since then, we welcomed over 110 representatives from energy sector to our Industry Forum event; hosted a Civil Society Forum to raise awareness of the consultation and engaged with people from across wider society; and had extensive, direct engagement sessions with organisations such as the Consumer Council, NI Chamber, CBI NI, NILGA, Ulster Farmers’ Union, Londonderry Chamber, Tedx Stormont and many more. We have as you’d expect held detailed briefings with our colleagues at the Utility Regulator, Department for the Economy and our partners at NIE Networks.
It has certainly been an intense time for everyone involved, and I am proud of the effort shown by everyone at SONI. But there is a good reason why Shaping Our Electricity Future is the most extensive public consultation we have ever undertaken. We believe climate change is the challenge of our generation and we all must do everything we can to play our part in lowering Northern Ireland’s carbon emissions.
For us, a major part of that is ensuring Northern Ireland has an electricity transmission system that can meet our climate ambitions. We’re starting from a strong base, as the engineering expertise and innovation shown by the SONI team means we can now facilitate world-leading levels of renewables on the grid. That meant that in 2020, nearly half of all electricity consumed in Northern Ireland came from renewable sources like wind and solar.
While we’re proud of what we have achieved so far, we’re also aware of the challenges ahead.
With the Energy Strategy options paper setting out a target of at least 70% renewable electricity consumption in Northern Ireland by 2030, we need to double the amount of renewable energy that is currently on the grid. This won’t be easy and will require fundamental changes to the transmission network. These changes will require new infrastructure and significant levels of investment that will ultimately be paid for by consumers over a number of years.
That’s why we want everyone’s view on the best way to deliver a grid fit for 2030 and secure Northern Ireland’s electricity future. The consultation closes on Monday 14 June 2021 at 12 noon, so there is still time to get involved and have your say.