This delivers more than 25% of the total energy consumed from renewables, mainly wind and solar power, an encouraging milestone in meeting the Government’s renewables target of 40% by 2020.
Michael Atkinson, Head of Generation Connections, says this is a significant advancement in the integration of renewable energy as part of Northern Ireland’s energy mix. Michael says, “In the last five years we have seen many challenges and have taken an innovative approach as we essentially ‘reverse engineered’ the electricity network to accommodate the new generation. Capacity limits, the removal of the planning permission stipulation for new applications and an immense workload have tested both our resources and our network.
“We have worked in close partnership with the renewables industry to look at new ways to facilitate a wide range of micro, small and large scale generation in all parts of Northern Ireland.
“The electricity network develops with every new home, business or renewable generator we connect. Government policies to encourage more electricity from renewable sources have led to a new wave of generation. Making the network ready for a cleaner, greener future has led to investment to strengthen or extend the electricity system in rural areas where wind farms, anaerobic digesters or tidal generators are being sited.”
Michael adds, “We have connected enough energy to power the flux capacitor in Doc Brown’s original DeLorean in Back to the Future! The DeLorean required 1.21 gigawatts of electrical power to operate, and every solar panel, wind turbine, hydro scheme and anaerobic digester connected to the electricity network in Northern Ireland now exceeds this!
“Renewable energy will contribute to the next generation’s environmental future and, at NIE Networks, we will continue to work with interested customers to maximize the contribution from these energy sources. However, due to the exceptional level of uptake of renewables to date and the impact this has had on available network capacity, future collaboration with industry is needed to develop more innovative approaches to make the best use of these technologies.”
For more information visit our Connections pages.