22/07/2011

Consultation Underway On Renewable Energy

Fresh proposals are being launched to develop the local renewable heat market.

Renewable heat is heat produced from renewable sources such as solar radiation, biomass materials, heat pumps, geothermal energy, anaerobic digestion and waste materials.

The Stormont Energy Minister, Arlene Foster announced the launch of a public consultation on the design and implementation of a Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) in Northern Ireland.

The consultation seeks views on a range of measures proposed by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) aimed at developing the local renewable heat market.

These measures include a Northern Ireland RHI for the non-domestic market, interim support for the domestic sector and specific intervention within large industrial sites. DETI has also launched a call for evidence on the barriers to deep geothermal energy in Northern Ireland.

Arlene Foster said: "This consultation document demonstrates my Department's dedication to supporting and developing the Northern Ireland renewable heat market, as part of a more diverse, sustainable and secure heat market.

"Heating energy accounts for close to half of all the energy consumed within Northern Ireland however 98% of our heating fuels are imported.

"In order for the Northern Ireland heat market to become more sustainable it is vital that renewable fuel sources are developed and that the uptake of renewable heating technologies is encouraged," she said.

"The measures detailed in this document represent funding of £25m for the local renewable heat market over the next four years and signal my Department's long term commitment to the development of renewable heat in Northern Ireland."

Alongside the consultation paper, an independent economic appraisal, which was completed earlier this year, has been published on the DETI website.

This appraisal has helped to inform the consultation document and determines the feasibility of a Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme and presents the potential options for 'incentivising' the renewable heat market in Northern Ireland.

This economic appraisal was part financed by the European Regional Development Fund under the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland.

Also included within the consultation document is a proposal to establish a Renewable Heat Strategy Group to consider wider policy issues.

Commenting on the establishment of the Renewable Heat Strategy Group the Minister said: "Financial incentives for the renewable heat market will only be successful if supporting policies are put in place that will ensure that the opportunities presented by these measures can be fully realised.

"The Renewable Heat Strategy Group will consider issues including opportunities for businesses; the need for increased skills; and the role of our agriculture sector. This will be vital in the success of the Northern Ireland Renewable Heat Incentive."

The consultation period will be open until 3 October 2011, following which DETI will consider comments received and begin development and implementation of a final policy position.

(BMcC/GK)

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