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Why renewables are good for business


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Last month the Department for the Economy published the renewable electricity support scheme, a major policy milestone set to drive investment and development for the local economy.

The expected boom in renewable generation projects, when the scheme is live, is an opportunity for Northern Ireland businesses to become part of the energy transition.

Manufacturing and construction industries should begin to consider how they can be part of the supply chain. Reskilling of staff will be required to meet the global demand for people to work in the sector, with over 2,000 new jobs in NI.

Renewables are paying £16m annually in rates in Northern Ireland and bring £145m gross value added (GVA) to the economy. If the legal obligation to reach 80 per cent renewable generation by 2030 is achieved, this will rise to at least £38.9m in rates revenue and over £5bn GVA.

Northern Ireland is currently missing out on this growth. More than $350 billion of capital poured into renewable infrastructure investment around the world in the first half of 2023, yet the region has attracted virtually nothing in the past five years.

When surveyed, 82 per cent of renewables developers said Northern Ireland was an unattractive place to develop. A lack of market support is the number one reason given, followed by uncertain planning time lines and limited grid capacity. The support scheme is only the first step of policy needed, and it needs to happen fast then currently road mapped.

RenewableNI has been calling for the creation of an Accelerating Renewables Taskforce to bring policy makers and industry partners together to make the transition happen at the pace needed.

Every new wind turbine and every new solar panel connected to the grid will reduce business bills and lower carbon emissions.

We need to more than double the current capacity to meet the future demands of heat and transport. Again, this will have a positive financial impact on NI businesses.”

Steven Agnew
Steven Agnew

Conor Murphy announced that one of his four critical objectives as Economy Minister is to reduce carbon emissions. He recognised the well-known benefits of renewables and committed to NI becoming self-sufficient in electricity generation and even an exporter of affordable renewable energy.

But actions speak louder than words. We need the minister to become a champion for renewables and to put his foot on the accelerator.

A range of renewable industry reports, free to access, are available on our website (www.RenewableNI.com). These include the Accelerating Renewables in NI report featuring an industry survey on developing in NI and Cutting Carbon, Cutting Bills which breaks down how wind saved £243m spending on gas in 2023.

  • Steven Agnew is director at RenewableNI

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