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Economy Minister Diane Dodds has stressed the importance of renewable electricity and her plan to develop a hydrogen economy in Northern Ireland.

Giving the keynote address at an online conference today, Minister Dodds said: I see the clean energy sector in Northern Ireland, and renewables in particular, continuing to be one of our highest priority areas for addressing climate change and delivering green economic recovery.”

Today’s All Ireland Renewable Electricity Conference was hosted by the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) and RenewableNI. The event continues tomorrow.

The Minister said: When I published the roadmap for rebuilding a stronger economy in June 2020, I highlighted that clean energy was one of the main sectors which could drive a green economic recovery.

“We have already led the way in developing renewable electricity, with 48% of our electricity coming from renewable sources.

This success has helped to support a low carbon and renewable energy economy made up of 3,500 business, 5,400 jobs and £269million of exports.”

The Minister spoke to delegates about her plans for “an ambitious but achievable renewable electricity target which can be delivered in a cost-effective way for consumers.”

“Whilst work is ongoing to gather the evidence needed to set a new target for Northern Ireland, I am already on the record in stating that I firmly believe that this target should not be below 70%.”

Onshore wind currently provides more than 80% of Northern Ireland’s renewables capacity.

Minister Dodds said she also sees great potential for offshore wind and marine renewables as well as a role for renewables in delivering her hydrogen ambitions.

I am very excited by the potential opportunities to lead the development of a hydrogen economy, and I see the renewables sector as playing a key role in supporting this by providing clean electricity for hydrogen production.”