Wind energy cut Northern Ireland’s gas spend by £243m in 2023, reports claim

But RenewableNI warn investment in wind energy has stalled in the north

Wind turbines scattered across the Irish landscape against the blue sky.
Carn Hill Wind warm. RenewableNI say new figures suggest Northern Ireland's wind energy output saved it from spending £243 million on its gas for energy generation. (RenewableNI)

Northern Ireland saved £243 million on its gas spend last year, due to local wind energy generation, new reports suggest.

RenewableNI said figures sourced from Wind Energy Ireland’s annual report, alongside new analysis from energy specialists Baringa, suggest that without wind energy, the north would have had to spend an additional £176m on gas during 2023, most of which would have been imported.

The Baringa analysis also found that an extra £68m would have been spent on carbon credits to burn the gas required for power generation.

The reports estimate Northern Ireland wind turbines saved approximately 920 kilo tonnes of carbon last year, equivalent to the amount of carbon produced by 200,000 homes

The latest figures from the Department for the Economy for the year to September 2023, show 47.4% of total electricity consumption in the north was generated from renewable sources. Of this, 83.8% was generated by wind.

Steven Agnew is director of RenewableNI, which represents companies involved in the industry here.

He said while 400MW of new renewable generation was connected in 2016, only 86MW of large-scale generation has been connected this decade.

“Investment in the sector has stalled,” he said. “The accelerating renewables report revealed 82% of global developers considered Northern Ireland an unattractive investment location for renewables.”

The wind energy lobbyist said $350 billion of capital was poured into renewable infrastructure investment around the world in the first half of last year, with Northern Ireland attracting virtually nothing.

“Two years ago, the final act of the Assembly was passing the climate bill making it a legal obligation to have 80 per cent renewable generation by 2030.

Steven Agnew, director of RenewableNI.
Steven Agnew, director of RenewableNI.

“Unfortunately nothing has changed since then. Planning timelines, grid investment and a route to market remain barriers to development,” added Mr Agnew.

“As more generation becomes available consumers will have increased energy security and protection from volatile fossil fuel prices, as well as cutting our carbon emissions.

“An Accelerating Renewables Taskforce needs established urgently to ensure NI gets back on track for meeting its renewables target.”