Northern Ireland on brink of meeting 40% green energy target
Northern Ireland is closing in on a target of generating 40% of all electricity from renewable sources by next year.
New data from the Department for the Economy revealed that 38.6% of the total electricity consumed here during the 2018-19 financial year came from homegrown green sources.
It represents a 2.1 percentage point increase on last year and is the highest rolling 12-month proportion on record.
The change is more stark when analysed over the decade.
In March 2009, 7% of electricity was generated from renewable sources in Northern Ireland.
Last March, that monthly figure was 46.4% - just slightly below the record 51.8% set during February 2019, but well above the 38.2% recorded for March 2018.
The Northern Ireland Executive initially set a target of sourcing 20% of electricity from renewable sources by 2015.
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The Executive's 2010-20 Strategic Energy Framework later increased the target to 40% by 2020.
According to the new report from the Department for the Economy, the monthly proportion exceeded 40% in six of the 12 individual months over the period from April 2018 to March 2019.
Between April 2018 and March 2019, 7,809 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity was consumed in Northern Ireland.
Of this figure, some 3,012 GWh was generated from renewable sources.
The Department for the Economy confirmed it was the highest rolling 12-month volume of renewable electricity generated on record.
It said the month-to-month variation in renewable electricity generation was down to weather and new facilities coming online throughout the year.
Wind turbines remain the major source for renewable power, generating 83% of all green power in Northern Ireland over the 12 months analysed.
However, that was a slight drop from its 84.8% share in 2017-18, reflecting a small but gradual emergence of more diverse green energy sources.
Chris Milligan, partner at law firm Arthur Cox, said: "Working with a wide range of generators and investors, we have seen significant investments made over recent years, the benefits of which can now be seen in these statistics.
"To continue on its current growth trajectory, the sector requires further support mechanisms to ensure that investment in renewable energy remains an attractive prospect for generators and funders."