The Minister was speaking as she highlighted the strength of the local renewables sector to around 100 guests, including US investors and influencers at Stormont. The delegation, representing the marine energy sector, travelled to Belfast as part of a US, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland Renewable Marine Energy and Smart Grid Workshop. The event is being funded in Northern Ireland by Invest NI.
The two-day workshop aims to profile the capabilities of the local marine energy sector to key players in this important and emerging sector. It will also showcase plans to further integrate renewable energy sources into the single electricity network using the latest developments in Smart Grid technology.
Hosting the delegates at Parliament Buildings Arlene Foster said: “Northern Ireland’s renewables sector has the potential for significant growth as our geographic location and local capabilities offer mutual benefits.
“Global energy companies can access Northern Ireland’s technology, skills and advanced expertise, while local companies can build strategic partnerships which open up export markets.”
Over recent years there has been a growing demand for the development of renewable energy. Invest NI provides businesses with support and advice to identify opportunities in wind, marine and bio-energy technologies.
Arlene Foster said: “Using the latest technology, to increase the capabilities of our modern Smart Grid electricity network, is an important part of sustainable energy development to help maximise efficient energy consumption across domestic and commercial markets.”
Northern Ireland’s engineering and manufacturing firms are at the forefront of the sector, with many involved in developing innovative marine energy solutions.
The Minister added: “Of the three major UK marine projects operating, local companies have provided services to two, installing offshore wind and tidal turbines, which are linked to the national grid and integrating renewable energy into the electricity network.
“This marine energy workshop will provide a valuable opportunity to showcase the world-class capabilities and infrastructure that Northern Ireland has to offer. For local firms, it’s a chance to learn more from potential inward investor multinationals, form partnerships and get involved in marine and Smart Grid activity.”