Thursday, 4 May 2023
Last week we attended the DWF ‘Future of Energy’ conference held in the Europa Hotel in Belfast, where our MD, Paul Carson joined a panel of energy experts to talk about the challenges and opportunities for decarbonisation and what lies ahead for the energy sector in Northern Ireland.
NI currently has an ambitious target of 80% electricity consumption to come from renewable sources by 2030 and ranking high on the panel discussion in terms of challenges included, but was not limited to, government, grid and planning.
Paul Carson referred specifically to the Repower EU initiative whereby Energy Ministers approve speedy consenting to planning applications as being in the overriding public interest, and while he acknowledged increasing consumer support for renewable development, he would like to see further active support for applications.
Darren Walsh of DWF reminded the audience of the huge shift in attitude towards renewable energy “In 2010, the biggest challenge was that boards weren’t interested in Renewable Energy, but ESG is now higher on the agenda. Businesses are now making it a core focus.”
Paul Carson referred to Strategic Power Connect and the benefits of ‘behind the metre’ generation for large energy users.
Paul stated, “Strategic Power Connect was set up in direct response to the significant and vocal demand from large energy users who are at a critical juncture when it comes to cutting carbon emissions and delivering net zero goals. It is simply impossible to continue with a business-as-usual approach.
“The industry currently has a keen focus on offshore and hydrogen and although extremely credible, we must focus on the low hanging fruit. Solar is quick and easy to deploy.
“In today’s climate, businesses need to evidence real progress and stand behind their green commitments in the sure knowledge they are meeting ESG standards.
While Paul addressed the challenge regarding export connection, he is mindful of the current NIE/SONI proposal to amend the existing distribution connection offer policy for exporting generators with a registered capacity less than 5MW and thereby recognising the important role businesses as generators have in achieving the wider objectives of the Energy Strategy.
Ultimately, Paul was comfortable to demonstrate hope to the panel and audience, and the future and key role that Strategic Power Connect will play as it partners with companies to drive down their carbon emissions and make the needed change to a more sustainable and responsible way of doing business.
Thank you to the team at DWF for giving us the opportunity to share our thoughts and to the panel members for their insightful contributions.