Alan Campbell, Interim Managing Director, SONI

Have your say on Northern Ireland's Future Electricity Grid

18 November 2020

Alan Campbell, Interim Managing Director, SONI, writes:

We at SONI, the Electricity System Operator for Northern Ireland, have been working on a ten year programme of work known as the Transmission Development Plan for Northern Ireland (2020-29) to ensure the Northern Ireland grid is efficient, strong and reliable.

This is a key piece of work for SONI, enabling the transformation of the grid to deliver a clean energy future.

Our plan considers areas of the grid which need to be upgraded and provides recommended solutions which may be adopted.

We are now seeking views on our outlook to 2029 to are keen to hear a wide range of opinions about the proposals to inform us moving forward. This will allow SONI to facilitate the sustainable development of a high-quality transmission grid to serve the existing and future needs of Northern Ireland.

Enabling a green recovery

Northern Ireland has the potential to be a market leader in new, low or zero carbon energy solutions, such as hydrogen, off-shore wind and other renewable generation. Recently the Economy Minister, Diane Dodds MLA, outlined an ambition for a new target of no less than 70% renewable electricity generation by 2030. In order for this to happen we must make the grid ready to move the large amounts of clean power we expect to come onto the electricity system in the next decade. 

For these reasons we are proposing a number of essential upgrades to the Northern Ireland grid including:

  • Modernising parts of the grid in the Belfast Metropolitan area so that it can fuel long-term economic growth in the city centre
  • We are also looking to mid-to-north County Antrim, here the grid is at capacity and we need to strengthen it to increase the flow of electricity from renewable sources 
  • The North West is another key region for works. We want to strengthen the grid here to support economic development and to facilitate decarbonisation of Northern Ireland’s electricity supply.

Delivering a safe and reliable electricity grid for the future

This is a pivotal time for the power system in Northern Ireland. The way consumers use electricity is also evolving as more of us move to electricity to heat our homes and power our vehicles it is important that grid has the capacity to meet this demand.

We are in a period of revolutionary change and a strong, flexible grid is essential to boosting Northern Ireland’s renewables profile while ensuring security of electricity supply is not compromised. This means upgrading the grid in places and refurbishing or replacing some of the equipment which carries electricity.

The investment required in NI grid to make it ready for increased volumes of clean energy, to reduce costly constraints and to strengthen it for economic development is c£500m over the next decade.

I would encourage you to view the plans here and provide feedback. The consultation runs until 11 December 2020 and following this we will update our plans before submitting it to the Utility Regulator for consideration. The Utility Regulator will also carry out its own consultation on our ten year plan.

Submissions can be made by email to Please include “Response to TDPNI Consultation” in the title of any email response. If sending by post, please address to: TDPNI 2020-2029, SONI Ltd, 12 Manse Road, Belfast, BT6 9RT.