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Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster has welcomed the Northern Ireland Assembly’s support for changes to legislation that will enhance renewable electricity generation.

Posted on: March 25th, 2010

The Renewables Obligation (Amendment) Order (NI), passed by the Northern Ireland Assembly today, will come into operation on 1 April 2010.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said: “The Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation, (NIRO) has been a successful incentive mechanism for renewable energy and this Order provides further support for renewable electricity generation. The enhanced support, being provided from 1 April, will help the small-scale renewables sector flourish and provide a market for renewables businesses here.”

The Department of Energy and Climate Change in Great Britain is introducing a feed-in tariff for small-scale renewables from April 2010. Noting the calls for a similar scheme in Northern Ireland, the Minister said: “This enhanced support for small-scale generators will go a long way to bridging any perceived gap with the feed-in tariff in Britain. It will provide a real opportunity for small-scale developers, householders and communities to make the move to renewable electricity generation.

“I have worked hard to ensure that the renewables sector here is not disadvantaged and that is why I have introduced equivalent support under the NIRO. I want to look at the relative costs and benefits of both a small-scale feed-in tariff scheme and the NIRO to ensure that future support best meets the needs of developers, but also consumers, in Northern Ireland.”

Among other technical changes, the Order will provide increased support for new small-scale installations accredited after 1 April 2010. Onshore wind projects under 250kW will receive 4 NIROCs per MWh (equivalent to around 18p per kWh), this is an increase from 2 NIROCs per MWh. Solar photovoltaics between 0 and 50kW will receive 4 NIROCs per MWh (equivalent to around 18p per kWh), this is an increase from 2 NIROCs per MWh. Finally, hydro stations between 0 and 1MW will receive between 2 and 4 NIROCs per MWh (equivalent to between 9p and 18p per kWh).

In addition, landfill gas, under today’s Order, will be uprated to receive one Renewable Obligation Certificate (ROC) per MWh in line with an announcement earlier this year.

The Minister concluded: “This is a positive change which is tailored to the needs of the Northern Ireland energy industry and it demonstrates how NIRO is working for the benefit of Northern Ireland.”