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Economy Minister Diane Dodds has set out her vision for the energy sector including an ambitious new renewable electricity target for Northern Ireland.

Minister Dodds was speaking this morning at the annual Northern Ireland Energy Forum conference organised by Agenda NI.

She said: “Northern Ireland has been hugely successful at bringing forward renewable electricity investments. We continue to be a market leader, achieving almost 48% of electricity consumed in the region from indigenous renewable sources – largely onshore wind.

“We have led the way in developing renewable electricity and this success has helped to support a low carbon and renewable energy economy made up of 3,500 businesses, 5,400 jobs and £269million of exports.

“Whilst work is ongoing to gather the evidence needed to set a new target for Northern Ireland, I firmly believe that this target should not be below 70% by 2030.

“This outlines how ambitious I want our Energy Strategy to be; and I want stakeholders and investors to be aware of our ambition.”

The themes for today’s NI Energy Forum event – which took place online – include Energy Policy priorities, decarbonisation, the impact of Covid-19 on the energy sector, the future of gas, energy in transport and renewable energy development.

The Minister also spoke to the delegates about her plans to develop a hydrogen economy in Northern Ireland.

She said: Hydrogen is seen as a key enabler of decarbonisation in the pathway to net zero emissions.

“In order to lead the development of a hydrogen economy, I will bring key players together across the public sector at a senior level to provide government oversight and co-ordination on the development of the hydrogen economy in Northern Ireland.”