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Renewable energy targets require ‘unprecedented change’ to power grid – SONI

Chamber members are set to be told of the unprecedented change required if Northern Ireland’s power grid is to handle increased levels of renewable electricity between now and 2030.

Details of the change needed will be discussed by SONI, the transmission system operator, during an online webinar with Chamber members on Thursday 29th April 2021.

The event will focus on SONI’s current public consultation on its ‘Shaping Our Electricity Consultation’ report, which details four potential approaches to changing the grid to achieve Northern Ireland’s clean energy ambitions, while maintaining an affordable and secure supply for consumers.

Chamber members will hear how the approaches outlined by SONI could result in up to twenty significant grid development projects over the next ten years, including potential projects in the north west.

The report sets out how the potential use of new technology to limit the number of projects needed and policies to influence the location of power generators and future large energy users (such as big industry and data centres) could impact the scale of change to the grid.

SONI is encouraging everyone in Northern Ireland to take part in the consultation and is partnering with Londonderry Chamber to engage directly with businesses and employers in the north-west.

Natasha Sayee, Head of Communications and Stakeholder Engagement at SONI, said the company wants everyone to have their say in Northern Ireland’s electricity future:

“The Economy Minister has stated an ambition that at least 70% of Northern Ireland’s electricity will come from renewable sources by 2030. While future energy policy is currently being developed, the change needed to the electricity system must begin today.

“If that is to be achieved, the amount of renewable generation connected to the transmission grid will need to double in the next ten years. That means the grid itself requires unprecedented change.

“At SONI, we want everyone to have their say in how we deliver that change, while also protecting consumers across NI.

“By engaging directly with Londonderry Chamber members, we are raising awareness of the consultation and its potential outcomes with businesses and employers from across the north west who all have an interest in decarbonising our economy while continuing to deliver economic growth.

Paul Clancy, Chief Executive of Londonderry Chamber of Commerce welcomed SONI’s engagement on the ‘Shaping Our Electricity Future’ consultation given its importance to the north west economy:

“As we work to emerge from the covid-19 pandemic, addressing the impacts of climate change will remain a priority for Londonderry Chamber members and SONI’s ‘Shaping Our Electricity Future’ consultation is an important part of that.

“We welcome this engagement which gives our members the opportunity to speak directly to SONI about the changes needed to the grid, what it means for businesses and employers and how everyone can have their say in the evolution of the transmission system between now and 2030.

“We look forward to Thursday’s discussion and submitting a response to the ‘Shaping Our Electricity Future’ consultation on behalf of Londonderry Chamber and would encourage all businesses in the north west to read up on the consultation and submit responses to share their views with SONI.”

People can find out more about the public consultation and how to have their say in Shaping Northern Ireland’s Electricity Future by visiting https://consult.soni.ltd.uk

You can also participate by emailing [email protected] or via post to Shaping Our Electricity Future, SONI, 12 Manse Road, Belfast, BT6 9RT.