20/01/2011

Renewable Energy Gets Powerful Boost

A new association is being formed today aimed at expanding the use of renewable energy sources, such as wind power.

The Northern Ireland Renewable Industry Group (NIRIG), which represents the collective voices of Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) and RenewableUK in Northern Ireland, was officially launched on Thursday.

It is part of a major renewable energy policy conference entitled 'Towards 2020 - Delivering the Strategic Energy Framework' at Belfast's Hilton Hotel.

Over 150 delegates are attending the event sponsored by ESB Wind Developments, RES and Bord Gáis Energy to hear from representatives working within the sector about the actions required by industry, government and others to deliver the recently published Strategic Energy Framework.

Gary Connolly, Chairman of the newly established Northern Ireland Renewable Industry Group (NIRIG), who has worked with ESB Wind Development for over three years managing the development of wind projects in Northern Ireland, outlined the key areas that need to be addressed in order to create a vibrant and prosperous wind industry.

"The development of renewable energy is a key strategic priority for Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Great Britain and Europe.
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"During the conference we are encouraging delegates to consider high level issues ranging from planning, grid infrastructure and regulation right through to technical issues such as development on peat, the impact of the Onshore Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), and environmentally acceptable development.

"The Northern Ireland Strategic Energy Framework is intended to provide the supporting policy infrastructure necessary to drive the development of Northern Ireland's renewable resources.

"The sector has the potential to create over 1,300 green jobs and dramatically reduce the 99% dependence on imported fossil fuels. It is critical that we all play a part in ensuring that the Framework is realised," he said.

Research has indicated that utilising wind generation for the production of electricity in Northern Ireland will deliver significant cost savings and thereby stabilize prices and reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels.

The current progress in Northern Ireland has been achieved with very limited amounts of installed wind capacity.

Maria McCaffery, Chief Executive Offdice of RenewableUK discussed the huge gains available for Northern Ireland if the targets indicated in the Draft Strategic Energy Framework can be achieved: "Coupled with its abundant natural resources Northern Ireland is uniquely placed to be a leading European centre for the integration of renewables across markets and to become a significant exporter of renewable energy and expertise," she said.

(BMcC/GK)

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