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Energy Sources

Volume 450: debated on Wednesday 25 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress has been made in securing cost-effective, environmentally-friendly sources of power in Northern Ireland since the publication of proposals on 25 July 2005. (96312)

The July 2005 proposals relate primarily to the North South cooperation on a longer-term vision for renewable energy within the All-Island electricity market—known as the ‘2020 Vision’.

In that specific context, extensive cooperation with the Republic of Ireland is continuing in the development of actions for implementation. A key element of this work is the all-island grid study involving research into the potential for renewable energy—and wind energy in particular—to be accommodated in the electricity grid systems in Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. The study, which is due to be completed in mid-2007 will provide a firm evidence base on which to develop strategic investment decisions in relation to securing renewable sources of power.

The detailed responses to the ‘2020 Vision’ paper itself are being analysed by the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources (DCMNR) and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) with a view to presenting the outcome to an industry forum in the new year.

In addition to the ‘2020 Vision’ work, the hon. Member will be aware that the Secretary of State’s Environment and Renewable Energy Fund was launched in February 2006 with the aim of making Northern Ireland an exemplar region in renewables development. The £59 million ring-fenced package is already being implemented through a number of programmes to enhance renewables actions and secure cleaner sources of power for Northern Ireland across both the public and private sectors.