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Time to develop our renewable energy resources

Johnny Andrews is correct that the disappointing collapse of the only offshore wind project in Northern Ireland illustrates the urgency of reviewing Northern Ireland's energy mix (Writeback, Dec 5). However, he is incorrect in many of the conclusions that he draws.

The target of 40% electricity from renewables from 2020 is not arbitrary, and nor is it unachievable. Last year almost 20% of Northern Ireland's electricity came from renewable energy sources. The vast majority of this was from onshore wind, the most cost-effective large-scale renewable energy source available.

Northern Ireland is still very heavily reliant on imported fossil fuels. UK energy bills doubled between 2004-2011, and 85% of this rise was caused by rising gas prices. However, our own research shows that reaching Northern Ireland's renewable electricity targets will add less than £7 to consumer bills by 2020 while providing a whole host of benefits in terms of jobs, investment and increased security of our energy supply. In addition, it is recognised by all that in the long-term we need more renewables as a hedge against fossil fuel price rises, not less.

What we need is commitment to developing renewables and not just to 2020 but also out to 2030.

Finally, we would strongly disagree with the analysis that our most serious issues are around the cost of energy. It is now accepted that there is a human impact on our climate system and climate change events have had widespread impacts here in Northern Ireland and across the globe.

By developing renewables we will help make our contribution to a sustainable future, bring jobs and investment to Northern Ireland and make the most of our enviable renewable energy resources for future generations.

PATRICK McCLUGHAN

Chairman, Northern Ireland Renewables Industry Group

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