Renewable Energy

Oral Answers to Questions – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 17th February 2014.

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Photo of Robin Swann Robin Swann UUP 3:15 pm, 17th February 2014

8. asked the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment whether she still believes that the Programme for Government 40% target for renewable energy is realistic and achievable. (AQT 738/11-15)

Photo of Arlene Foster Arlene Foster DUP

I do.  Last year, we hit, I think, 17% for renewable energies.  The biggest challenge for us in renewable energy is the grid.  We have had a stronger uptake in small renewable projects, which has put more of a strain on the grid than the larger renewable energy projects.  We have a challenge with our grid.  We are looking at that proactively at present.  The regulator has allowed NIE to invest in the grid, although maybe not as much as NIE would have liked.  We are also looking at some European funding, which would have to be match-funded by the industry here, to see whether that is available to us to help to strengthen the grid, particularly in the west of the Province.

Photo of Robin Swann Robin Swann UUP

Was the Minister surprised when the former Minister of the Environment and Finance Minister called the same target impossible and economically destructive?

Photo of Arlene Foster Arlene Foster DUP

No, I was not surprised at all. [Laughter.]

Photo of William Hay William Hay Speaker

Order, Members.  That concludes Question Time.

Photo of Anna Lo Anna Lo Alliance

Mr Speaker, I very much apologise to you and the House for my absence today.  I have been very busy today dealing with a number of issues.  It just went out of my mind.  I am very sorry.

Photo of William Hay William Hay Speaker

I very much acknowledge the Member coming to the House and apologising.