The Minister was speaking at the International Council on Large Electric Systems (CIGRE) Seminar on ‘’Low Carbon Power Systems’’ in Belfast, today.
CIGRE is the international association of engineers and managers associated with major electricity systems. This event is one of a number of seminars, conferences and symposia that the organisation holds across the world, on subjects relevant to the host region.
Delivering the opening address at the seminar, Arlene Foster said: “Increasing the level of renewable power generation is key for Northern Ireland’s energy future, and this will involve significant strengthening of the electricity grid. It is not sustainable to continue our near 100% dependence on imported fossil fuels for power generation.”
The Minister highlighted the ongoing work by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) in relation to reviewing the Strategic Energy Framework for Northern Ireland.
She said: “This is an important time as we consider our energy mix and key energy priorities for the future. In order to help make Northern Ireland a more prosperous region, we must have reliable and competitive energy supplies. The challenge will be to ensure that these are delivered in the most cost effective manner.’’
The Minister welcomed the emphasis in this week’s Budget on a number of sustainable and wider energy proposals for the UK.
Arlene Foster said: “The Chancellor’s budget is focussed on promoting low carbon energy. Northern Ireland should benefit from the £525million enhancement for offshore wind development and the additional £45million for small-scale renewable electricity and heat projects primarily through the Low-Carbon Buildings Programme.
“Officials in my Department and in Invest NI will continue to liaise closely with colleagues in the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) in London to ensure that Northern Ireland can achieve maximum benefit from outworking of the budget proposals, and in particular how Northern Ireland may benefit from ‘green jobs’.”