The Minister said: “Recent energy price rises are impacting on every person and business in Northern Ireland. This is happening because of the global price volatility that comes with fossil fuels. Our new strategy sets out how we will work towards phasing out fossil fuels, ending this volatility and ensuring that more of the money we spend on energy stays in the local economy and helps to create wealth and jobs.
“The Path to Net Zero Energy sets out a path to 2030 that will mobilise the skills, technologies and behaviours needed to take us towards net zero carbon and affordable energy by 2050.”
The Path to Net Zero Energy sets three key targets:
- energy efficiency: deliver energy savings of 25% from buildings and industry by 2030;
- renewables: meet at least 70% of electricity consumption from a diverse mix of renewable sources by 2030; and
- green economy: double the size of our low carbon and renewable energy economy to a turnover of more than £2billion by 2030.
The Minister continued: “By setting and achieving these targets, we are putting ourselves on a path to transform how we develop and consume energy. Decarbonising energy means achieving so much more than carbon reductions. We are already world leaders in integrating renewable electricity generation and we can also become world leaders in the new hydrogen economy. We will play to our strengths. Our world-leading engineering sector will be at the centre of this.”
The new strategy was developed with significant collaboration and engagement across government, industry and energy consumers. It has already received broad endorsement.
Members of the Expert Panel on the Future of Energy (Laura Sandys, John Fitzgerald, David Green, Paul Allen and Jillian Anable) jointly said: “This new energy strategy sets out an ambitious and evidence-driven pathway to reduce carbon emissions from energy, putting people at the heart of the transition and delivering more affordable energy, a better society and capturing the opportunities of a green economy.”
Steven Agnew, Head of RenewableNI, said: “RenewableNI fully supports this strategy’s ambition to deliver wholly decarbonised electricity as a core enabler of a net zero carbon and affordable energy system.”
The Northern Ireland Business Alliance – represented by the CBI’s Angela McGowan, Kirsty McManus from the IoD, Ann McGregor from NI Chamber of Commerce and Bob Barbour from the Centre for Competitiveness – said: “This is just the beginning, but we are fully prepared to play our part in taking forward this ambitious vision.”
Noyona Chundur, Chief Executive of the Consumer Council of Northern Ireland, said: “We support the new Energy Strategy and are committed to working in partnership to deliver it, and the consumer education, support and empowerment needed to help our citizens through their changing energy future.”
John French, Chief Executive of the Utility Regulator, said: “This strategy provides a real opportunity for Northern Ireland to contribute to the decarbonisation agenda goals whilst ensuring energy bills are affordable for everyone.”
Pat Austin, Director of National Energy Action, said: “We support this new Energy Strategy and we hope that it will be the catalyst for change, ending fuel poverty and shaping a more equitable energy future in Northern Ireland.”