Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NI Chamber) took its Energy Forum to Enniskillen this week, holding the popular business event at the Centre for Renewable Energy & Sustainable Technology (CREST).
The series, which is supported by the System Operator for Northern Ireland (SONI) is an opportunity for major energy users and suppliers to learn about latest industry developments and share best practice. Over 50 businesses from a range of industries including manufacturing, motoring and construction were in attendance.
At the February event, attendees were given an overview of Derrylin based Encirc’s sustainability strategy from Paul McManus, Environmental Manager at the glass manufacturer.
Speaking at the event, Paul highlighted the central role business has to play in tackling climate change:
‘We all know we have a climate emergency on our hands and the onus is on us all, individuals, companies and governments to fix it. The challenge can be daunting but we have the UN sustainable development goals as our guide; with these and with passion and drive, we can make a difference.”
SONI also provided an insight into its new five-year strategy to transform Northern Ireland’s power system. The £500m strategy will see structures upgraded to handle world-leading levels of renewable energy, supplied through a combination of wind and solar power.
Dr. David McGowan, Senior Lead Engineer at SONI explained:
“The south west is a power house for current and future generations. At the moment, Fermanagh and Omagh Council area hosts around 29% of renewable electricity in Northern Ireland. We believe there may be potential for around 166 MW of new onshore renewable wind power. This means that in the future, green energy from the Fermanagh and Omagh area could be powering 38% of Northern Ireland homes, that’s 290,000 houses.
“It is SONI’s job to ensure that the power system is ready to handle significantly increasing amounts of renewable energy, the target for which will be set by the Department for the Economy. Our partnership with the Northern Ireland Chamber affords us the opportunity to engage with key business and industry representatives in achieving this.”
Christopher Morrow, Head of Communications & Policy at NI Chamber concluded:
“We were delighted to bring NI Chamber’s hugely popular energy forum to Enniskillen. The event was an important opportunity for businesses in this area to hear first-hand about SONI’s commitment to decarbonising the NI electricity system, which will ensure that Northern Ireland’s businesses have access to secure, quality, green electricity. It’s implementation will, of course, need to be matched investment in the Northern Ireland grid and the urgent approval of the North South Interconnector, both of which we are actively pressing the new Executive on.
“On behalf of NI Chamber, I would like to thank all of today’s speakers for their contribution to what has been a very successful morning of connecting and learning.”
Other speakers included Steven Agnew, Northern Ireland Renewables Industry Group, Barry McCarron, CREST and Meabh Cormacain, Department for the Economy.
The next NI Chamber and SONI Energy Forum is scheduled to take place in Armagh during June. Subscribe to NI Chamber’s email newsletter to be kept informed.