Northern Ireland’s new energy strategy – The Path to Net Zero – will create jobs and lead to more affordable energy, Economy Minister Gordon Lyons said today.
Grainia Long, housing manager; Noyona Chundur, Consumer Council; Economy Minister Gordon Lyons; Paul Stapleton, NIE Networks; Pat Austin of National Energy Action; and John French, utility regulator
The minister was speaking as he launched a 22-point action plan for the path to net zero energy and NIE Networks announced 110 new jobs aligned with the strategy.
The action plan follows last month’s release of The Path to Net Zero Energy, which outlined a roadmap to reduce our energy-related emissions by 56% by 2030 and a pathway to achieve the vision. 2050 net zero carbon and affordable energy. The action plan includes a series of new initiatives, including a £10m green innovation fund, a hydrogen center of excellence and a one-stop-shop for energy advice.
At the launch of W5’s new Energize exhibition in Belfast, the minister was supported by representatives from NIE Networks, the Housing Executive, the Consumer Council, National Energy Action and the Utility Regulator.
“I am delighted that The Path to Net Zero has been endorsed by some of the most prominent organizations working in the energy sector. A collaborative approach is key to putting affordability at the center of our new strategy and action plan. We will take an energy efficiency approach that will help consumers reduce their energy consumption and therefore minimize their energy bills.
“The action plan charts the best course to ensure people live and work in more energy-efficient buildings, while helping some of society’s most vulnerable live in warmer homes, reduce health problems and, ultimately, to save lives. We understand that people need information, advice and financial support to make some of these changes, especially with affordability in mind, and we will ensure that the appropriate help is available. .
NIE Networks has announced it will create at least 110 new jobs, with an additional £50million investment in the power grid with opportunities for engineers, designers, apprentices and operational roles. It is part of a major investment that will focus on the deployment of clean energy infrastructure.
The Minister welcomed the announcement, saying it reinforces the vision of the Green Economy Strategy, which aims to create new jobs and develop a skills base for the low-carbon economy through the innovation, support and focus on our competitive strengths.
“I am delighted and encouraged that NIE Networks is investing in our energy future. As we move forward on The Path to Net Zero Energy, we can expect to see new investments in clean energy that will create real economic opportunities on the ground for our businesses and citizens. We aim to double the size of our low carbon, renewable energy economy. This will create the jobs of the future and we will ensure that everyone has the skills and training to benefit from them.
“I therefore welcome NIE Networks’ commitment to providing a wide range of employment opportunities, including management positions and apprenticeships through its award-winning apprenticeship program and training center as part of this announcement.”
NIE Networks Managing Director Paul Stapleton said:
“Our investment announced today aligns with The Path to Net Zero. The electricity grid is at the heart of Northern Ireland’s journey to net zero carbon emissions and is a central part of the economic recovery following of the Covid-19 pandemic. The creation of these 110 jobs and our investment in the additional skills we are developing at NIE Networks over the next few years will help Northern Ireland achieve these goals and drive green growth in the years to come.
The action plan has been welcomed by a number of other organizations.
Chief Housing Officer Grainia Long said:
“I welcome the release of The Path to Net Zero Energy Strategy Action Plan, which is a very welcome step in Northern Ireland’s transition to net zero emissions. We are determined that housing plays a vital role in this and estimate that improved energy efficiency in local homes could reduce emissions by 2.2 million tonnes per year. It is also fundamental in the fight against fuel poverty. As part of our own plans, we recently launched a research and development competition to rapidly develop ‘smart’ systems that help reduce carbon emissions from home heating by using more local clean renewable energy and enable our tenants to keep their homes warm and dry. , while saving on energy costs for tenants.
Noyona Chundur, Chief Executive of the Consumer Council of Northern Ireland, said:
“We are convinced that the objective of net zero greenhouse gas emissions is essential for the long-term protection of consumers. This must go through the development of a sustainable energy future that works for all of us. It is essential that we achieve a fair and equitable transition by ensuring affordability, security of supply and consumer protection.
“We must avoid demands that are too burdensome and unaffordable for consumers if we are to achieve our net zero goal. Instead, we need to engage, empower and mobilize communities and consumers to create a grassroots movement capable of delivering net zero. We support the New Energy Strategy and are committed to working in partnership to implement it, and the consumer education, support and empowerment needed to help our citizens navigate their changing energy future.
John French, chief executive of the utilities regulator, said:
“This strategy offers a real opportunity for Northern Ireland to contribute to the goals of the decarbonisation agenda while ensuring energy bills are affordable for all.”
The action plan comes at a time when energy prices are rising dramatically.
Pat Austin, of energy charity National Energy Action, said:
“Many fuel-poor people are struggling this winter, especially with soaring household energy bills. There are so many negative impacts resulting from living in a cold house – unnecessary deaths, poor physical and mental health, reduced life chances and added pressure on our precious healthcare services. These consequences affect us all.
“We support this new energy strategy and hope it will be a catalyst for change, ending energy poverty and shaping a fairer energy future in Northern Ireland.”
Notes to editors:
- Photo caption:
Pictured at the W5 in Belfast at the launch of the Net Zero Energy Transition Action Plan are (lr) Grainia Long, Chief Housing Officer; Noyona Chundur, Chief Executive of the Consumer Council; Economy Minister Gordon Lyons; Paul Stapleton, Managing Director of NIE Networks; Pat Austin of National Energy Action; and John French, chief executive of the utilities regulator.
- The Path to Net Zero Energy Strategy and Action Plan can be found on the Department’s website: https://www.economy-ni.gov.uk/energy-strategy-action-plan
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