08/10/2003

UK Energy Minister launches new initiative in Belfast

A new initiative to encourage the development of renewable energy in Northern Ireland is being launched today in Belfast by UK Energy Minister, Stephen Timms.

The Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin (REGO) certificates will enable renewable energy producers to show that their electricity comes from a green source, meaning energy buyers have an assurance of the greenness of the product.

Mr Timms, speaking at the Action Renewables Conference in King’s Hall Conference Centre, Belfast, said: “All producers of electricity from eligible renewables will be able to request these electronic certificates. The system will be flexible enough to cope with requests from small, even domestic scale generators.

"Northern Ireland is very well placed to take advantage of this scheme, and I envisage that it is likely to be most attractive and useful for those who wish to do business internationally.”

It is not possible for Northern Irish renewable energy producers to take part in the Renewable Obligation Certificate scheme, which benefits green energy producers in Great Britain. The new REGO scheme, however, will include Northern Irish generators, and will help them do business across borders. REGOs will be available to generators of all sizes, will come into effect later this month and will be issued by Ofreg.

The new scheme is introduced at a time when Northern Ireland is benefiting from the enormous potential the countryside and coastline offer. The recently opened Altahullion windfarm and a £2 million grant for a wood-fired bioenergy plant in Enniskillen, are just two examples of large renewable energy projects in the province.

Northern Ireland is also embracing the renewable energy revolution with small scale projects like the Church of the Nativity building in Dunmurry, which received funding from the UK Government’s £10 million Clear Skies programme last week.

Mr Timms highlighted the importance of planning for renewable energy projects and welcomed the Department of Environment’s review of planning guidance announced today.

The implementation of the Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation is planned for April 2005, which will permit the trading of renewable obligation certificates (ROCs) right across the UK.

(MB)

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