In the wake of COP28 last month, renewable energy and net zero policy in Northern Ireland will be the focus of a new inquiry by MPs on the cross-party Northern Ireland Affairs Committee.
To help the UK Government fulfill its 2050 net zero pledge, Northern Ireland’s Executive set a target for 80% of its electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030. Yet the most recent figures show that Northern Ireland is not on track to meet its target, as renewable energy expansion has stalled in the last year.
In light of Northern Ireland’s 2030 target, the Committee aims to understand the barriers to NI reaching its de-carbonisation goals, including limited grid capacity, insufficient investment incentives, and issues arising from the island of Ireland’s shared electricity market.
This inquiry comes ahead of a new renewables support scheme which is anticipated to launch next year if the Executive returns to Stormont. The scheme is expected to encourage investment in renewable energy infrastructure. Amid concerns that consumers will shoulder the burden of a green energy transition, the Committee will consider how a green energy discount for investors could impact energy bills.
Chair of the Committee Sir Robert Buckland MP said: “Time is running out for the UK to deliver on its net zero targets. It is vitally important that every part of the UK contributes to upholding our obligations both internationally and to the planet. Yet it is clear that we still have a way to go.
“With the anticipated announcement next year on Northern Ireland’s plans to support renewable electricity generation, this inquiry is a timely examination of what needs to change to ensure Northern Ireland is on track to meet its goals.”
Call for evidence
The Committee invites written evidence on the following questions by midnight on 25 January 2024:
- What measures need to be in place to support the prompt meeting of NI’s 2030 renewables target, taking into account the needs of both large installations and micro-generation?
- What progress has already been made to put those measures in place?
- How can investment in renewable electricity generation be sufficiently incentivised without driving up energy costs paid by industrial and domestic consumers?
- What best practice exists elsewhere in establishing renewables support schemes for similarly sized markets and encompassing different sizes of installations?
- How should any renewables support scheme interact with the Single Electricity Market, the market in the Republic of Ireland and the Great Britain market?
- What legislative and administrative factors will be important in the delivery of a new renewables support scheme?
- How effectively has the UK Government supported the Executive as it seeks to deliver the 2030 renewables target?
- To what extent should Northern Ireland officials be reasonably expected to take decisions in this area pending the formation of an Executive and based on Northern Ireland Office guidance?
- What might be the consequences of Northern Ireland of failing to meet its 2030 renewables target?