27/02/2006

Government turns to green power

The Government has announced plans to help promote green energy in Northern Ireland homes.

The Northern Ireland Secretary of State Peter Hain said that the £59 million Environment and Renewable Energy funding package will include grant assistance to private householders wanting to install renewable energy systems to heat their homes.

Speaking at the fund launch in the Exploris Aquarium in Portaferry, Mr Hain said: “Global warming is a reality that threatens all our futures. On top of that, everyone is feeling the impact of rising fuel prices in a world where the security of our energy supplies is under increasing threat. It is time for action.”

He said it was time for Northern Ireland, both at Government level and on a personal level, to work in partnership to meet the global challenge.

“This £59 million fund will help Northern Ireland harness the natural resources all around us to provide heat and power and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. It will leverage in the region of £300 million in additional private sector investment in our renewables infrastructure.”

The fund will result in the Stormont Estate being powered by a new biomass plant, the integration of solar energy systems on other Government buildings, and enhanced energy efficiency measures in public sector buildings, with an emphasis on schools.

A programme will research the potential for energy crops, waste and geothermal resources to generate heat and electricity.

An all-island assessment of the electricity grid infrastructure needs to accommodate renewables beyond 2025 will also be undertaken.

At a personal level, grants of between 30 – 50% to install renewable energy in private homes will allow the public to play its part, increasing the number of homes in Northern Ireland with renewable heat systems ten fold to approximately 4,000.

Solar hot water systems will be installed in hundreds of Northern Ireland Housing Executive homes, and the Warm Homes Scheme, which provides energy efficiency measures for those in fuel poverty, will receive more than £9 million in additional funding, allowing 10,000 homes to be covered.

(SP/GB)

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