Northern Ireland exceeds renewables target for electricity ahead of time

By Conor Macauley
BBC NI Agriculture & Environment Correspondent

  • Published
Wind turbinesImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The vast bulk of renewable energy in Northern Ireland was generated by wind.

A Stormont target on electricity from renewables has been exceeded a year ahead of time.

The target was for 40% of power in Northern Ireland to be generated from renewable sources by 2020.

But statistics published on Thursday show that for the 12 months to June 2019, the figure stood at 44%, the vast bulk of which was generated by wind.

When a subsidy scheme was introduced in 2005, just 3% of NI electricity came from renewable sources.

That support - the Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation - has now ended.

It spread the cost of subsidies for renewable generators across electricity companies and ultimately added about 6% to the average bill in Northern Ireland.

Higher targets

The Department for the Economy said renewables have improved security of supply, cut emissions and delivered job opportunities.

Permanent Secretary Noel Lavery said a UK government commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 would require Northern Ireland to move significantly beyond 40%.

He said that was something that was being considered as part of a new Energy Strategy for Northern Ireland.