Northern Ireland

Two fifths of NI electricity from renewables

wind farms Image copyright Getty/Ken Jack

Almost 40% of the electricity generated in NI last year came from renewables, according to government statistics.

Power from about 82 wind farms in Northern Ireland was the main source.

Figures from the Department for the Economy show that between April 2018 and March 2019, 38.6% of NI electricity was generated by those farms, and from the likes of biogas and biomass.

It is a slight increase on last year's figure, edging closer to Stormont's target of 40% renewable energy by 2020.

But separate statistics show that there has been a huge reduction in the number of renewable installations in the planning system.

That has been put down to the ending of Northern Ireland's system of support payments and problems connecting to the grid.

Some 58 renewable energy applications were received by planners in 2018 - the lowest figure since 2003/4.

Most of them were for single wind turbines.

At its peak in 2011/12, 820 renewables applications were submitted to planners.

'Incoming Economy Minister'

At the time the Northern Ireland Renewable Obligation scheme provided subsidies to encourage investment in renewable generation.

It closed to onshore wind in 2016 and all other technologies the following year.

There is currently no replacement for the NIRO and a decision on whether or not Northern Ireland should join GB's Contracts for Difference - a system in which generators compete against one another for a government contract - has not yet been taken.

It will be a matter for an incoming Economy Minister.

Most of Northern Ireland's power generated from non-renewables comes from gas.

But some coal is still imported every year for electricity generation. About a third of the 1.6m tonnes imported in 2018 was used for the purpose.

Derry has the biggest power station generating electricity from renewable sources.

The Lisahally Power Station uses wood diverted from landfill to produce enough power for 30,000 homes and businesses in the north west.

The electricity it generates is bought on a long term contract by Power NI.

More on this story