The consultation sought views on proposals to change the NI Renewables Obligations, (NIRO) 2010 and increase support for some small-scale generators.
The Minister said: “The Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation is the main support mechanism for incentivising renewable electricity generation. It has been very successful in enabling Northern Ireland to achieve almost 10% renewable electricity generation and will be essential if we are to meet our proposed 40% target by 2020.”
The proposals will take effect from 1 April 2010 and make a number of administrative changes to improve the operation of the NIRO. The changes will include increased support to landfill gas in Northern Ireland and allow for greater assistance for some categories of small-scale generation, broadly in line with some elements of the Great Britain Feed-in tariff.
Arlene Foster continued: “There was a very positive response to the proposed changes in the consultation document. However, respondents were clear that they wanted a small-scale feed-in tariff in Northern Ireland. While Northern Ireland does not have the necessary legislative powers to introduce a small-scale Feed-In Tariff in Northern Ireland at present, I am confident that the proposed increase in Renewable Obligation Certificates, (ROCs) will help support new small-scale generation here.”
The Minister added: “My Department is in the process of commissioning detailed work to make an assessment of the cost of introducing a small-scale Feed-In Tariff, similar to that in GB. However, the cost to the consumer will be the key determining factor in a decision on this issue.”
Commenting on the fact that the proposed enhanced ROCs will only apply to new entrants accredited from 1 April 2010, the Minister said: “I am aware that a small number of existing generators will not benefit from the proposal for enhanced ROCs. They will, however, continue to get the same support under the NIRO as they do currently and their position is consistent with similar projects elsewhere in GB. I am however willing to consider any forthcoming evidence which demonstrates that this decision will impact negatively on existing generators.”
The Minister concluded by referring to the Department of the Environment’s new planning policy for renewable energy, PPS18. “The Planning Policy Statement (PPS)18 will assist the overall growth of the renewable sector in Northern Ireland. PPS18 aims to facilitate the siting of renewable energy generating facilities in appropriate locations within the built and natural environment. This will help us to achieve the challenging targets for renewable energy as set out in the Strategic Energy Framework and to realise the benefits of renewable energy.”