A renewable energy target in Northern Ireland has been achieved a year ahead of its target date. Stormont signed up to a target to achieve 40% of power from clean and green renewable sources by 2020.
The Department of Energy has just confirmed that Northern Ireland actually managed to glean 44% of its 12-month energy usage from renewable energy sources, of which wind was the primary technology.
In April 2005, a subsidy scheme was introduced to boost the share of clean power consumption. It was shut down two years ago. Before 2005, only 3% of Northern Ireland's energy was being produced from clean sources.
The Department of Energy’s Permanent Secretary, Noel Lavery, said that the renewable energy subsidy scheme had been a clear success.
He pointed to the collective results that a large group of engaged stakeholders had managed to deliver, including the renewable electricity industry itself, energy operators, investors, Invest NI, NIE Networks, SONI, Ofgem and the Utility Regulator.
The next target is set for 2050 - to achieve a net-zero figure for carbon emissions. Northern Ireland's policymakers are now considering the energy strategy that will help them to achieve this goal.
Meanwhile, the biggest consumer of electricity in the country, Northern Ireland Water, has contracted out its renewable energy purchasing to Energia in a supply contract worth £34 million. From this arrangement, 43% of the company's power will come from renewable energy sources.
The company is investing in a capital programme to better maintain and operate its assets by investing in clean energy generation on-site and from purchasing renewable power from local projects under PPA arrangements.
The new Energia contract will support this aim on both counts - seeking to reduce energy demand through efficiencies whilst providing greater access to clean local energy.