RenewableNI launched a new Programme for Government on 29 June setting out the actions required to achieve the 80% renewable electricity required by 2030.
At the breakfast round table event members of RenewableNI discussed renewable industry challenges with MLAs and senior planning personal before moving on to come up with solutions together.
In his opening address at the event, Deputy Chair of RenewableNI Paul Carson from Strategic Power Projects said:
“The return of the Northern Ireland Assembly at the earliest possible juncture must be the first and highest priority going forward. Of course, there is hope that we can progress some actions in the absence of the Assembly, but the challenges of the climate emergency are made even more difficult due to the lack of an Executive and functioning Assembly.”
Speaking about his personal experience, Paul continued:
“I was born, I live, and I’ve based businesses in Northern Ireland, but all the projects I have in the pipeline are in the Irish Republic. We need change to achieve targets.”
Chair of RenewableNI, Garth McGimpsey, from member organisation RES explained the major delay occurs during the planning stage:
“Delays in the planning system are typically caused by a lack of appropriately skilled staff in the Department of Infrastructure, DEARA and local planning departments. These delays in terms of consultation time frames effect all renewable energy projects.“By 2030, 65% of our electricity needs to be generated by onshore wind turbines. We need change to achieve it.”
Consensus from the tables on the actions required include:
- Resource the planning system to reduce timelines;
- Streamline the process for green infrastructure projects;
- Clear statutory timeframes that are realistic and industry can have confidence will be achieved.
Head of RenewableNI, Steven Agnew, summed up the success of the event:
“RenewableNI has set a target for zero carbon power by 2035 and this has now been highlighted as necessary by the Climate Change Committee, in a letter to Minister Edwin Poots MLA. To achieve it we must double our renewable capacity in half the time it took to get to this point.“Today we came together and found solutions to deliver new renewable generation at pace. We have five years to meet the 80% by 2030 renewables target.“We have the target, but we will need change to achieve it.”