This visit provided a valuable opportunity to highlight the significant progress that has been made to date in decarbonising the power system, and also discuss the challenges that lie ahead in meeting Northern Ireland’s 80% renewable energy target by 2030.
As part of the visit, Minister Baker was given a briefing on key infrastructure projects critical to the upgrade of the electricity grid including the Mid Antrim Upgrade and an overview of the draft Transmission Development Plan for Northern Ireland 2023-2032.
Speaking directly after the visit, Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Steve Baker MP said:
“I was delighted to visit SONI’s Headquarters in Belfast today and to hear about their ambitious plans to ensure a green energy future for Northern Ireland.
“The tour of the centre made me appreciate the immense effort that goes into managing such critical infrastructure.
“The UK Government is committed to working alongside the Executive to ensure that Northern Ireland can increase energy security, create jobs, and generate prosperity for all the people of Northern Ireland.
SONI Managing Director, Alan Campbell explains: “We were very pleased to welcome the Minister of State to our headquarters in Belfast. The 2030 energy targets are incredibly challenging and while Northern Ireland has made significant progress to date, there is still much to do.
“Northern Ireland has a proven track record of being a world leader in the energy transition, reaching a major milestone of being able to manage 75% of electricity on the grid coming from variable renewable sources at any moment in time. However, we must continue at this pace. The energy transition provides huge opportunities for future economic growth in Northern Ireland by providing new green jobs and supporting the local economy.
“In order to meet the targets, we will need to undertake the biggest upgrade to our electricity grid since electrification. This will require a collaborative effort and the focus needs to be on proactively identifying opportunities to accelerate delivery and removing any barriers to progress.”
The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee is currently undertaking an inquiry into renewable energy and the net zero transition in Northern Ireland.
Minister of State Steve Baker with SONI Managing Director Alan Campbell