Working with you to deliver a cleaner energy future

16 December 2022

Ciaran McCartan, Senior Communications and Engagement Specialist, SONI writes:

We at SONI, the electricity transmission system operator for Northern Ireland, have concluded another year of investing and improving the transmission grid across Northern Ireland. The continuous improvements to the grid will increase the reliability, stability and efficiency of the transmission system while also helping to deliver a cleaner energy future, supporting our climate ambitions. 
This year we have been working on a number of major projects that will assist in modernising the transmission grid across Northern Ireland. One of our key projects is ‘Energising Belfast’ which will future proof the transmission system in Greater Belfast to ensure its people and businesses have the power they need to grow, aligning with the economic and societal vision of the Belfast Region City Deal.
We have also launched the ‘Mid Antrim Upgrade’ which will be essential to reduce bottlenecks on the grid in the Mid Antrim area, allowing clean energy generated in the North and West of Northern Ireland to be securely transported to the East where there is most demand. By strengthening the grid and easing the transfer of renewable energy, this project is estimated to save consumers £9 million annually by 2030. 

Our three-part process for grid development puts stakeholder and public consultation at the heart of how we develop the transmission grid and ensures we gather key insights from those who live and work in the local area. We have just concluded our early-stage consultation on these key projects and have received incredibly valuable feedback which will help shape our final plans. In the New Year, we will be consulting further as our proposals for these respective projects develop. 
We will also soon be consulting on our latest Transmission Development Plan for Northern Ireland which will set out the projects needed over the next decade to ensure the transmission grid is ready to facilitate future demand and significant increases in clean energy.  This will cover a range of upgrades and new infrastructure to improve the grid’s strength, capacity and resilience. The projects which we set out to deliver are essential to achieving our climate change targets of at least 80% renewable electricity generation by 2030 and net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.  
We would like to thank those who have engaged in our consultation processes and provided much valued feedback this year. Feedback and collaboration from our stakeholders provide insights and expertise that will help us to inform the next stage of the grid development process across each project. The scale of challenge required to transform the grid is substantial – we can’t do this alone. Collaboration with industry, policy from government, acceptance from communities and landowners, political vision and regulatory funding are all required to deliver our shared goal. We look forward to continuing to working with you to make this a reality.