Ireland Works to Catch-Up with Renewable Energy Market

The Renewable Energy Working Group of the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC) has welcomed the introduction of new measures to support renewable energy in Northern Ireland, and urged the Irish government to take similar steps.

The new measures enact a renewable portfolio standard-type of requirement for electricity generation, which is set to increase as time goes on. The market-based renewables support mechanism should boost investment and enable the construction of a significant number of renewable generation projects, according to IBEC. Starting on April 1, 2005, United Kingdom’s Renewables Obligation will require all Northern Ireland licensed electricity suppliers to provide the Northern Ireland Authority for Energy Regulation (NIAER) with evidence that a percentage of the electricity supplied to final consumers has been generated from renewable sources. The obligation will be set at 2.5 percent of electricity supplied from 2005 to 2006, and will increase to 6.3 percent by 2013. Dermot O’Kane, the chairman of IBEC’s Renewable Energy Working Group, said, “The new scheme in Northern Ireland will benefit rural communities and consumers through increasing security of energy supply and reducing the exposure of business to the volatility of fossil fuel pricing. The Irish Government must introduce similar measures here at the earliest opportunity.” Northern Ireland Enterprise Minister Barry Gardiner recently announced that the introduction of the renewables support mechanism would result in private sector investment of around GBP 500 million (US $940 million) over the next five years in Northern Ireland. Governments North and South are developing an all-island energy market, and UK and Irish energy regulators are currently working on the design of a new electricity trading market to operate on an all-island basis.