United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Politicians call for higher targets

An influential group of Northern Ireland Assembly members is calling for more ambitious targets for renewable energy. After completing a wide ranging energy inquiry, the assembly's Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment urges new targets of 15% of Northern Ireland's electricity from renewables by 2010 and 35% by 2020. This will require the right market conditions and the removal of barriers to a wide range of renewables. The committee also calls for a Renewable Energy Obligation for Northern Ireland and for renewable energy plants in the province to be able to trade Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs) to satisfy the Renewables Obligation in Great Britain.

Pat Doherty, committee chair, says the committee also believes more attention should be paid to public information campaigns to encourage the use of green electricity. Grant aid should be provided to domestic consumers seeking to obtain energy from renewable sources and tax breaks should be offered to investors to encourage the use of green electricity with the aim of eventually reducing its cost compared to brown. "Long term contracts should be let to renewable generators [which] would give low priced electricity and should have clauses that allow prices to be reduced further and permit full scrutiny of the generators' detailed accounts," says Doherty.

Committee members are unanimous in their demand that nuclear power plants on Great Britain's western seaboard be shut and replaced by renewable energy. Moreover, "the substantial government subsidies to the nuclear energy industry should be redirected to the renewable energy industry," states Doherty.

The timing of the committee's report coincides with the launch of a government consultation on the direction of energy strategy in Northern Ireland.

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