“We need to make the most of our natural resources..”

As the UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown goes green, and conveniently for those proposed windfarms new legislation on planning applications for such projects got through parliament despite a minor Labour rebellion, Northern Ireland’s Energy Minister, the DUP’s Arlene Foster, launches a consultation on renewable energy.

Commenting on the consultation, the minister continued: “This consultation covers the full range of issues surrounding renewable energy. “I am keen to hear new and different ideas that can positively impact on our renewable energy consumption here. We need to make the most of our natural resources to cut carbon emissions and to ensure a sustainable future for Northern Ireland.”

Has anyone told the Environment Minister?
From the Energy Minister’s statement

Notes to Editors:

In spring 2007, European Union Heads of Government agreed to a binding target that 20% of the EU’s energy (across electricity, heat and transport) should come from renewable sources by 2020. The details of how the EU 2020 target is to be implemented, including the contribution that each Member State is to make, have yet to be agreed. On 23 January 2008, the European Commission issued proposals in the form of a draft EU Directive on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources which set a proposed target of 15% renewable energy consumption in the UK and, for all Member States, a 10% mandatory biofuel target. This Directive will be subject to negotiation between Member States and the EU.

It is important to be clear on the different bases for existing and proposed targets. Current UK and NI renewables targets relate only to electricity, not to renewable energy. The proposed 15% target is across renewable electricity, transport and heat. As such, it cuts across Ministerial responsibilities in Northern Ireland. DETI is working with DRD, DARD, DFP, DOE and DSD to see how renewable energy can best be delivered in NI.

Northern Ireland’s targets currently focus on renewable electricity: 12% by 2012 and with an aspirational target in the NI Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS) of 40% by 2025.

The Electrical Grid Study (published earlier this year) showed that up to 42% of electricity generated from renewable sources of energy could be accepted by the grid, provided that the grid infrastructure is significantly upgraded. The Grid Study is available on the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment website [and was previously noted here]

A revised Strategic Energy Framework for Northern Ireland is planned for later in 2008/9.