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Northern Ireland’s renewable ambitions face achievable challenges

The region was fast out of the blocks in its shift towards the use of renewable energy. Early targets were met, with more now in place, as the country strives to meet its current goal of 80% renewable electricity by 2030 and a carbon free power system by 2035. Ambitious, certainly. Although it won’t be an easy path to get there.

In the early 2000s, Northern Ireland’s initial, enthusiastic embracing of targets to replace fossil fuel dependency with a new array of renewable electricity sources saw it led the UK and Ireland. Ambitions were bold and the economy minister at the time embarked on a strategy aimed at reaching an electricity generation level of 40% renewables by 2020.

Given new legislation, encouraging economic indicators and a confident investor community, onshore wind farms proliferated across Northern Ireland. Successful deployment of the first one in 1993 in Bessy Bell, County Tyrone, by Cork-based DP Energy had made the point.

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