Northern Ireland Wants in on GB’s Offshore Wind Contract for Difference Scheme

The government of Northern Ireland is currently working with the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to explore whether the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme, currently operating in Great Britain, could be extended to include Northern Ireland, which is eyeing to be included in the next CfD allocation round in 2023.

Northern Ireland’s Department for the Economy (DfE) revealed the plan in its new energy strategy, launched on 16 December and heavily focused on offshore wind, marine and other renewables, which are aimed at meeting at least 70 per cent of electricity consumption by 2030.

The new renewable electricity target provides clear direction for investment and the policies required to support new renewable generation, according to the Department for the Economy, which said that it would seek to put in place an alternative support mechanism for investors if Northern Ireland could not be included in the CfD scheme.

“We are confident that with the correct support in place, and future developments of the electricity network and planning policy, we will continue to build on our success in this area to date. A review of strategic planning policy for renewable and low carbon energy is currently being taken forward to ensure it remains fit for purpose to enable appropriate development in appropriate locations. We will consult on this in 2022″, the DfE states in the energy strategy.

In order to achieve the goal of offshore wind and marine renewables being a big part of the energy mix, the government is looking to create an environment that would attract investment opportunities. “Our focus will be facilitating pre-commercial test and demonstration sites in the 2020s which will put us on a clear pathway to commercialisation by the early 2030s or sooner if possible”.

One of the main goals of the new energy strategy is to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy by phasing out fossil fuels while growing Northern Ireland’s own renewable base, supported by sustainable renewable imports and use these to decarbonise power, heat and transport.

Some of the next steps for the DfE will also be to engage with BEIS in the fields of hydrogen, Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) and industrial decarbonisation and innovation.

“We can utilise increasing levels of renewable electricity for green hydrogen production as part of wider measures to make our electricity system more flexible”, the DfE states.

The government plans to establish Hydrogen Catapult, a centre of excellence in research and innovation, in partnership with academia and to bring together key players across the hydrogen economy.

“Decarbonising energy means achieving so much more than carbon reductions. We can continue to be world leaders in integrating renewable electricity generation and we can become world leaders in the new hydrogen economy”, said Northern Ireland’s Economy Minister Gordon Lyons.