TDPNI 2021-2030 Consultation Blog: Alan Campbell

23 May 2022

Alan Campbell, Managing Director, SONI writes:

At SONI, we are constantly reviewing and planning for the future of the electricity transmission grid in Northern Ireland. Every year, we consult and update our plans for the next ten years ahead and   recently completed our latest consultation, for our Transmission Development Plan for Northern Ireland (TDPNI), for the period 2021 to 2030. 

The primary objective of TDPNI is to outline our plans for the strategic development of the electricity transmission network, so that our electricity grid is more resilient and capable of handling greater amounts of renewable energy, as we aim to transition to a cleaner energy future. It will also reduce reliance on imported fuels, enhancing Northern Ireland’s security of supply.

Green Energy Future

Within the TDPNI (2021 – 2030) we are proposing a number of essential upgrades to the Northern Ireland grid. These include:

  • Modernising parts of the grid in Greater Belfast so that it can support long-term economic growth in the city centre and provide the capacity needed to enable the switch to electric vehicles and heat pump technology in homes.
  • A high-capacity upgrade in County Antrim to increase the amount of clean energy we can transport from the North and West into urban centres in the East.
  • A focus on the North-West and also the Mid Tyrone area where we want to strengthen the grid to support economic development and to enable greater utilisation of renewable energy.

Consultation Responses

Stakeholder engagement is a critical part of the TDPNI process, and I want to thank all those who took part in our recent consultation.

Key themes that we have identified already include:

  • Recognition that SONI has a key role to play in implementing the new Energy Strategy for Northern Ireland and helping achieve the target of 70% electricity from renewables by 2030.
  • Opportunities highlighted by individual Councils to increase renewable capacity in their respective areas.
  • Importance that when assessing the operational needs of the electricity grid in Northern Ireland the needs of residents, the local economy and protecting the environment should be considered.
  • Ensuring the growth set out in Council Local Development Plans is underpinned with the necessary electricity infrastructure.

Next Steps

SONI has now reviewed in detail all of the consultation responses we received and published our latest TDPNI 2021-2030 report on our website. Earlier this week, the Utility Regulator launched their consultation on SONI’s draft 2021-2030 Transmission Development Plan.

It’s an exciting time for everyone involved in the transformation of the power sector as we strive to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and increasingly generate indigenous, renewable energy in Northern Ireland.

I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the TDPNI process so far, and I would encourage anyone with an interest in energy and grid infrastructure to remain engaged and involved in the development of our grid plans. We all have a responsibility to decarbonise society but we can’t deliver the changes needed without you.