SONI to play a critical role in delivering Minister’s Economic Vision

Friday 19th April 2024

Minister for the Economy voiced importance of innovation in renewable energy during visit to SONI Control Centre

Northern Ireland’s Electricity Transmission System Operator, SONI (System Operator for Northern Ireland), welcomed the Minister for the Economy, Conor Murphy, on a visit to its headquarters in Belfast this week.

During the visit, the Minister met with the team of experienced grid control engineers responsible for the round the clock management of the electricity grid in SONI’s Control Centre.

The Minister was briefed on how the development of new technologies, such as Long Duration Energy Storage, will help maintain a safe, secure, reliable supply of electricity for consumers as Northern Ireland transitions to a fundamentally renewables-based power system.

The Minister also met the grid operator’s senior leadership team to discuss its progress to upgrade the power system to support the delivery of Northern Ireland’s renewable energy targets, including updates on critical projects such as the North South Interconnector.

Speaking after the visit, Minister for the Economy, Conor Murphy, said:

“A just transition towards net-zero is a critical objective of my Economic Vision. As decarbonisation will play a key role in the transition to a greener and more sustainable economy, I was pleased to visit SONI to hear further about the progress in decarbonising the electricity grid.

“As the grid operator, SONI is central to supporting my renewable energy ambitions. Transforming the grid’s infrastructure and how it’s used is vital for ensuring we deliver an affordable and secure energy future for all.

“We face the same short-term challenges in transitioning to a renewables-based power system as our counterparts across the world, but the energy transition also provides huge economic opportunities that can generate good jobs, improve productivity and address regional imbalance”.

SONI Chief Executive Alan Campbell said:

“As Northern Ireland’s Transmission System Operator, SONI was pleased welcome the Minister to our headquarters to hear more about our mission to transform the power system for future generations. Given the expertise and experience of our team, we work closely with the Department for the Economy as a trusted adviser on the energy transition.

“While Northern Ireland’s 2030 renewable energy targets are very ambitious and challenging, the social, economic and environmental opportunities afforded by this once-in-a-generation transition are huge.

“Working together, we need to deliver the biggest upgrade to our electricity system since electrification itself. With less than six years until 2030, now is the time to focus on opportunities to accelerate delivery and remove any barriers to progress.”

As Northern Ireland’s Transmission System Operator, SONI is responsible for ensuring power can flow from where it is generated to where it is needed in the present, while also transforming the grid to support Northern Ireland’s renewable energy ambitions in the future.

To facilitate the integration and use of significantly more renewable energy, the electricity grid, and how the system is operated, has to be upgraded in an unprecedented manner.

The visit to SONI follows the recent publication of the Department for the Economy’s Energy Strategy Action Plan 2024.