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Energy Minister, Arlene Foster today announced the launch of a public consultation on proposed changes to the Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation (NIRO).

Posted on: October 29th, 2011

The NIRO supports the development of renewable electricity by encouraging suppliers to provide evidence that a specified proportion of their electricity has been generated from environmentally-friendly renewable sources.

When banding of ROC levels was introduced in the Renewables Obligation Order (NI) 2009, it included a requirement to review banding levels every four years. This review has been carried out by the Department of Energy and Climate Change in co-operation with the Devolved Administrations.

As part of a UK-wide review, this consultation seeks views on a number of proposals to amend the levels of Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs) to new generating stations from 1 April 2013.

Commenting on the consultation Arlene Foster said “The Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation has proved very successful in increasing the amount of electricity generated from renewable sources. The UK-wide review of banding levels is important as we need to take account of any changes to technology costs, while also delivering value for money for consumers.”

In addition to a number of UK-wide banding changes, the consultation proposes a small increase in Northern Ireland ROC levels for microgeneration solar photovoltaic, retention of the ROC for landfill gas and recommends extending the lifetime of the NIRO from 2033 to 2037. It also poses a number of questions on future renewable electricity incentivisation in Northern Ireland arising from the Coalition Government’s White Paper on Electricity Market Reform.

The Minister concluded: “Consistency across all three UK Renewables Obligations is important, however, where necessary, I reserve the right to exercise judgement in setting ROC levels that meet the requirements of the Northern Ireland market.”

The consultation period will be open until 19 January 2012, following which DETI will consider comments received and begin development and implementation of a final policy position.