The Northern Ireland Renewables Industry Group (NIRIG) is a collaboration between the Irish Wind Energy Association and Renewable UK. NIRIG represents the views of the large scale Renewable Energy Industry in Northern Ireland, providing a conduit for knowledge exchange, policy development support and consensus on best practice between all stakeholders in renewable energy. The Executive has published its Strategic Energy Framework (SEF) which confirmed that Northern Ireland will seek to achieve a challenging 40% of its electricity consumption from renewable sources by 2020. This increasing level of renewables will improve our energy security, broaden our energy mix, reduce our reliance on imported fossil fuels and reduce carbon emissions.
Northern Ireland has some of the most abundant wind resources in Europe and there is an increasing understanding of the benefits that come from harnessing this natural resource. On a global scale, it contributes to climate change mitigation and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. At a regional scale, it contributes to stabilising energy prices to the customer and reducing fossil fuel dependence, while ensuring a more secure energy supply for a country that currently depends on imported fossil fuels for 99% of its energy needs.
It is extremely positive to note that NIRIG members have invested approximately £100m in the local economy in 2012, with the wind industry currently employing well over 550 people in Northern Ireland.The experience of many local economies over the last few years demonstrates that the economic impact of onshore wind deployment can be very significant. In addition to these benefits, the wind industry also provides significant community benefits in Northern Ireland and NIRIG is committed to ensuring that communities continue to benefit from onshore wind farm developments through job provision, investment, and community benefits initiatives.
To integrate these community benefits, NIRIG has launched a Community Commitment Protocol which sets out a protocol for NIRIG members, based on current industry positions across the UK and Ireland. The protocol has been inspired by the success of existing community benefit funds in Northern Ireland.