HC Deb 08 March 2004 vol 418 cc1304-5W
Lady Hermon

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what recent progress has been made in the development of alternative power sources in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement. [157657]

Mr. Pearson

During the past year, the ability of the Northern Ireland electricity system to accommodate a broad range of renewable energy generation has been fully assessed, as has the potential for generating electricity from tidal streams in the waters around Northern Ireland.

Renewable energy generation connected to the Northern Ireland grid increased from 45 megawatts in 2002 to 86 megawatts in 2003. All of this increase was wind based, although important projects using wood waste (five megawatts) and landfill gas (four megawatts) will be completed during 2004.

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is currently assessing the economic potential of biomass for energy generation in Northern Ireland and will report its conclusions in the autumn.

I intend to support the development of renewable energy by introducing a Renewable Obligation from April 2005 and I will be consulting shortly on the draft scheme of operation and legislation for the Obligation.