Shaping Our Electricity Future

At SONI, we are making the grid ready to carry at least 70% of Northern Ireland’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030, an ambition set out by Economy Minister Diane Dodds MLA.

In order to achieve at least 70% clean electricity by 2030, SONI needs to add more energy from renewable sources, such as wind and sun, to the power system. This means that the electricity grid will need to carry more power from energy sources that vary depending on the weather. This power will also need to be carried over longer distances.

As a result, we need to make the grid stronger and more flexible. To help decide how best to do this, SONI has created four draft approaches to developing Northern Ireland's grid in order to reach the 2030 clean electricity target.

On Monday 8 March 2021, SONI launched a nationwide consultation on these four approaches to fundamentally change the grid to achieve Northern Ireland’s clean energy ambitions, while maintaining an affordable and secure supply for consumers. The consultation is called Shaping Our Electricity Future.

Consultation

The four approaches in Shaping Our Electricity Future comprised the following:

  1. Generation-Led: Government policy would influence where renewable energy is generated – favouring locations where the grid is already strong
  2. Developer-Led: In this approach, we continue to connect new sources of renewable electricity as requested in any location
  3. Technology-Led: This approach uses technical solutions to make the grid more resilient so it can better handle the variable nature of renewable energy
  4. Demand-Led: Government policy determines where future large energy users such as big industry and data centres would locate in Northern Ireland

Each of the four approaches require investments in grid development projects throughout Northern Ireland, with costs ranging from £113 million to £535 million.

Between Monday 8 March and Monday 14 June, SONI held a series of online workshops, meetings and fora across the country to inform people and gather feedback that will directly influence the final roadmap.

In addition to this, SONI launched a new consultation portal at consult.soni.ltd.uk that hosted the consultation material and acted as an accessible platform for people to submit their views.

Next steps

Based on feedback received by the end of the consultation, we will develop a final plan which is due for publication in Autumn 2021.