Warnings over electricity capacity
Northern Ireland is at an increased risk of electricity shortfalls within a decade, it has been revealed.
Fossil fuel-burning power stations in Co Antrim will be decommissioned or subjected to restrictions due to EU emissions regulations.
But alternative links carrying power from Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland should be well advanced.
Enterprise Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster said: "There is increased risk to Northern Ireland of a capacity deficit after 2021, and by 2021 the Moyle interconnector (with Great Britain) will be fully operational and the new North/South interconnector should be commissioned."
Ballylumford power station in Co Antrim will be decommissioned after 2015 and restrictions imposed on Kilroot because of the requirement to comply with EU Emissions Directives from 2016. At that stage Northern Ireland will still have a 200 megawatts of spare capacity.
But by 2021 the minister said there was an increased risk.
The potential problem was identified by the electricity system operator for Northern Ireland.
According to the Utility Regulator, this is because of the European regulations, delay in delivering a planned second North/ South interconnector for which a planning application was initially submitted in December 2009, and a fault on the Moyle connection - where capacity has been halved and is unlikely to be permanently restored to full capacity using additional cables until 2017.
The company which owns the interconnector between Northern Ireland and Scotland might have to spend £60 million to replace damaged cables, it was revealed earlier this year.
Mutual Energy's Paddy Larkin told an assembly committee this was his preferred solution to the faults.
They are causing the interconnector to run at half its usual 500mw capacity.
The 10-year-old Moyle electricity interconnector helps ensure cheaper electricity and security of supply between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.