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First Northern Ireland renewables statistics show good progress towards 2020 targets, says expert

The proportion of Northern Ireland's electricity usage generated from renewable sources reached 19.5% last year, according to the first official figures published by the Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI).

According to the figures, wind energy production accounts for the largest share of all renewable electricity generated, at 93.6% of the total.

"This is the first set of statistics we have in this area, which is interesting in itself," said energy law expert Richard Murphy of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com.

"The figures clearly demonstrate that Northern Ireland is headed in the right direction towards its target of 40% electricity consumption from renewable sources by 2020. However, there is a need for other forms of renewable to come through such as biomass projects, including energy from waste (EfW) and anaerobic digestion (AD)," he said.

This first report covers the financial year April 2013 - March 2014 (6-page / 647KB PDF), and future publications will be released twice a year. It is intended to track progress against the Northern Ireland executive's current Programme for Government target to secure 20% of electricity consumption from renewable sources by 2015; and the 40% 2020 target included in its Strategic Energy Framework.

The figures show that over financial year 2013-14, 19.5% of total electricity consumption in Northern Ireland was generated from renewable sources located in Northern Ireland - an increase of 5.8 percentage points over the previous year. This meant that some 1,595 gigawatt hours (GWh) of the approximately 8,200GWh of electricity used in Northern Ireland that year was generated from renewable sources.

The vast majority of renewable electricity generated in Northern Ireland over that period came from wind sources, which accounted for 93.6% of the total. Landfill gas accounted for a further 4% of the total; while biogas, biomass and 'other' sources accounted for approximately 1% of the total each.

DETI's report tracked the total electricity from renewable generators connected to the transmission and distribution network over the review period, but not that produced by so-called 'micro-generators' that generated their own electricity. For that reason, DETI said that the data "[represented] the minimum amount of renewable electricity generated in Northern Ireland".

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