October 6, 2008

Wind Farms Blow Up Use of Renewable Energy

RENEWABLE electricity consumption in Northern Ireland has gone up by 60% since 2005 with wind taking up the biggest share of the market, a conference in Belfast on wind energy has heard.

Energy Minister Arlene Foster addressed the Irish Wind Energy Association's (IWEA) autumn conference, the theme of which was Actions for Economic Prosperity in a New Energy Era.

The Minister said renewable energy development remained at the forefront of her agenda.

"With 99% dependence on imports to meet our energy needs, renewable energy is an imperative for Northern Ireland, to enhance security of supply, help protect against the price volatility of imported fossil fuels and to meet EU targets," she said.

"The good news is that Northern Ireland has some enviable natural resources, in particular wind, and it is encouraging that we now have 19 windfarms across Northern Ireland.

"As a result of this development, around 6% of our electricity consumption is from renewable sources, a growth of some 60% over the past three years."

The Minister said that while wind was expected to remain the prime renewable source of electricity generation in the near future, targets for 2020 in the European Commission Renewables Directive require making the most of all renewable technologies.

"The important change being introduced in this EC Directive is that the targets relate not just to electricity but to our total energy mix - including heat and transport fuels," she said.

"The new directive will therefore be a key driver for increasing levels of renewables, such as bio-energy and off-shore energy, here in Northern Ireland."

The Minister said the speed at which wind farms were being developed presented many commercial opportunities for local engineering companies.

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