Northern Ireland

Wind energy: Reprieve for some subsidies in Northern Ireland

Wine turbine
Image caption Subsidies for single wind turbine projects are set to continue in Northern Ireland despite the April deadline for the ending of subsidies for large on-shore wind energy projects

The subsidy system for large on-shore wind energy projects in Northern Ireland will end in April as planned.

However the subsidy system for single turbine projects will continue, pending further consultation.

In September, Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell had said the change would apply to all projects.

That provoked uproar from farmers who had invested in single turbine applications on the basis that the subsidies would not change until 2017.

Mr Bell said he has now been able to "take a dual approach" following consultation with the UK Department of Energy.

Consumer cost

Energy policy is devolved to Stormont, but decisions taken at Westminster have a major knock-on effect.

The subsidy system for renewable energy is being radically scaled back by the Conservative government.

Under the current UK system, all onshore wind energy projects are guaranteed a subsidy.

That system is ending, to be replaced by one in which there is UK-wide competition for subsidy payments.

Renewable development will take place within the UK wherever it is most economic.

The costs of subsidising renewable energy is shared across all UK electricity consumers.

However, if Stormont was to continue with its own more generous system those additional costs would be imposed on Northern Ireland consumers alone..

Mr Bell said that it is in that context which the consultation will take place

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