RSUA has responded to the SONI ‘Shaping our Electricity Future’ consultation with the following comments on the proposals.
RSUA believes that the proposal to put sources of clean energy closer to the greatest demand for power makes the best use of the existing grid. This is preferable to letting developers decide where to locate clean energy generation as this runs the risk of not providing the right quantity of electricity in the appropriate places.
The heaviest consumption of electricity is in the east, so a Belfast-led focus and buy in from east coast councils would be required, along with robust policy to ensure timely and appropriate delivery of energy sources.
The role of developers in procuring and implementing new sources of energy will be useful particularly in areas where landowner-proposed projects may be more positively received.
RSUA highlighted that SONI would need to facilitate and fund attaching sources like these to the grid.
RSUA was reluctant to support the proposal to install an underground high voltage cable to carry clean energy from where it is generated (the north west) to where it is most used (the east). This would potentially be a massive infrastructure intervention which would require rapid planning and continual updating so that ongoing and near future development can work alongside it.
The fourth proposal to put large electricity users close to clean sources of energy is straightforward, given that it doesn’t affect any existing users and a requirement for new large energy user projects to locate in certain areas would be easy to implement.
Other points that RSUA raised were the generation of electricity in neighbourhoods through retrofitting of solar PVs, as well as proposing flexible tariffs for wind energy usage in periods of low demand to encourage increased uptake and less waste.
RSUA thanks Maeve Gorman and the members of the Climate Emergency Committee for preparing this response.