Tue 6th Sep 2016
New energy forum to power ahead with critical issues
Business forum will keep firms up-to-date through “a time of real challenge and change for the energy sector”
Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in partnership with SONI, has launched a new initiative aimed at providing a bridge between energy providers and large energy users in Northern Ireland.
‘The Energy Forum’ is a direct response to the Ministerial Energy & Manufacturing Advisory Group report from earlier this year which highlighted the need for businesses to engage in the upcoming changes to the energy market.
Meeting four times a year, the forum will provide a platform for the sharing of best practice on energy efficiency and inform businesses of significant changes ahead including the progress of the North/South Interconnector, uncertainties surrounding Brexit and new market arrangements which will emerge with i-SEM in 2017.
Commenting on the initiative, Ann McGregor, Chief Executive of NI Chamber, said: “Energy costs are frequently cited by our members as one of the biggest barriers to business growth. This is a real challenge to our competitiveness and needs both government and the private sector to work together to address.
“The Energy Forum therefore seeks to share best practice on energy efficiency and to inform businesses of significant changes ahead, including securing critical planning permission for the North/South Interconnector and I-SEM (Integrated Single Electricity Market), which will change the way electricity is traded and generating capacity managed.”
The forum is held in partnership with SONI, the licensed independent electricity Transmission System Operator (TSO) and, in conjunction with EirGrid is the Market Operator (MO) of the Single Electricity Market (SEM).
Natasha Sayee, Head of Public Affairs at SONI, said: “As operator of the high voltage grid, one of our vital functions is to ensure the Northern Ireland economy has the power it needs for growing our local businesses and for attracting foreign direct investment – making sure the power is there where and when it is needed. To do this we have to strengthen the grid through projects like the North South Interconnector which is undoubtedly the single most important infrastructure project on the island today.
“Working with the business community, understanding their needs and helping them to become aware of the key role we play is essential to us. We are delighted to be partnering with NI Chamber in navigating the business community through a time of real challenge and change for the energy sector and in developing a collaborative approach as we work towards a brighter future for business in Northern Ireland.”
Speaking at the first event, which took place yesterday at the offices of Pinsent Mason in Belfast, were Ton Van Keken, Senior Vice President of Operations at Interface in Europe and Dr Patrick Keatley from Ulster University.
Highlighting an “unclear picture” for future energy prices, Ulster University’s Dr Keatley, a Research Fellow in energy storage integration said: “While electricity costs for domestic consumers are comparatively low, our largest energy users face prices which are among the highest in Europe. The interaction of factors that influence the cost of energy in a small, isolated power system like ours are complex and confusing. Add to this the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the new market arrangements which will emerge with I-SEM in 2017, and the picture for future energy prices is even more unclear.”
Photos from the event can be viewed here.
Presentations can also be downloaded below: