Image via Department for the Economy
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.
The Minister was speaking as he launched a 22-point Action Plan for the Path to Net Zero Energy and as NIE Networks announced 110 new jobs aligned to the strategy.
The action plan follows last month’s publication of The Path to Net Zero Energy which outlined a roadmap to deliver a 56% reduction in our energy-related emissions by 2030 and a pathway to deliver the 2050 vision of net zero carbon and affordable energy. The action plan includes a suite of new initiatives including a £10million green innovation fund, a hydrogen centre of excellence and one-stop shop for energy advice.
The Minister was supported at the launch at W5’s new Energise exhibition in Belfast by representatives of 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 important organisations working in the energy sector. A collaborative approach is vital to putting affordability front and centre of our new strategy and action plan. We will take an energy-efficiency-first approach which will help consumers reduce the energy they use and therefore minimise their energy bills.
“The action plan maps out the best route to ensuring people will live and work in more energy efficient buildings, whilst helping some of the most vulnerable in society to live in warmer homes, reduce ill-health and ultimately save lives. We understand people need information, advice and financial support to make some of these changes, particularly with affordability in mind, and we will ensure that the appropriate help is available.”
NIE Networks announced that they would be creating at least 110 new jobs, with an additional £50million investment in the electricity network with opportunities for engineers, designers, apprentices and operational posts. It is part of a significant investment which will focus on the roll-out of clean energy infrastructure.
The Minister welcomed the announcement, saying it bolsters the strategy’s vision for a Green Economy, which aims to create new jobs and grow a skills base for the low carbon economy through innovation, support and focusing on our competitive strengths.
“I’m delighted and encouraged that NIE Networks is investing in our energy future. As we progress on the route laid out by The Path to Net Zero Energy, we can expect to see further investments in clean energy, which will create real economic opportunities on the ground for our businesses and people. We are aiming to double the size of our low carbon and renewable energy economy. This will create the jobs of the future and we will work to ensure everyone has the skills and training needed to benefit from this.
“I therefore welcome NIE Networks’ commitment to delivering a broad spectrum of jobs, including senior positions and apprenticeships through its award-winning apprenticeship programme, and training centre 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 network sits at the heart of Northern Ireland’s journey towards net zero carbon emissions and is a central component of economic recovery in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The creation of these 110 jobs and our investment in the additional skills we develop at NIE Networks in the next few years will help Northern Ireland reach those aims and supercharge green growth in the years ahead.”
The action plan comes at a time of significant energy price rises.
Pat Austin of the energy charity National Energy Action said:
“Many people living in fuel poverty are struggling this winter, particularly with soaring household energy bills. There are so many negative impacts resulting from living in a cold home – needless death, physical and mental ill-health, damaged life chances and further strain on our precious health services. These consequences affect us all.
“We support this new Energy Strategy and we hope that it will be the catalyst for change, ending fuel poverty and shaping a more equitable energy future in Northern Ireland.”
The Path to Net Zero Energy strategy and Action Plan is available on the Department’s website: Energy Strategy – Path to Net Zero Energy – Action Plan