In June 2019 the UK government committed to law an obligation to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2050. Since then, the UK government has continued to develop a wide range of policy initiatives to help the UK deliver upon its climate change commitments.

In Northern Ireland energy policy is devolved.  At the end of 2021 the Department for the Economy (DfE) published a new energy strategy for Northern Ireland, which seeks to promote green growth, improve energy efficiency in homes and buildings and promote the further build out of renewable electricity generation.  The strategy also supports the development of other decarbonisation initiatives, including renewable gases (biomethane and hydrogen), geothermal energy and more.

In June 2022 the NI Executive passed the Climate Change Act (Northern Ireland).  Like the climate change legislation introduced in other parts of the UK and Ireland, this act commits Northern Ireland to legally binding commitments on decarbonisation, including development of Climate Action Plans, Carbon Budgets, and the commitment to net zero emissions by 2050.  It also set out a target for at least 80% of electricity in Northern Ireland to come from renewable sources by 2030.

What are we doing to help?

Mutual Energy has set up an Energy Transition function that will focus on the following areas:

Mutual Energy is obliged to act as a thought leader within the Northern Ireland energy policy debate to promote the long-term interests of Northern Irish energy consumers.

Working closely with government, regulators and other key industry stakeholders, our focus is on strategic upstream issues critical to the successful delivery of the energy transition in Northern Ireland, including:

  • security of supply,
  • large scale energy storage,
  • decarbonisation of dispatchable power generation,
  • cross border policy coordination,
  • system planning initiatives, and
  • strategy development.

Our assets represent hundreds of millions of pounds worth of investment by NI consumers. It is therefore incumbent upon Mutual Energy to identify their role in helping to deliver the NI energy transition.

The Moyle interconnector provides substantial flexibility to the NI electricity system, facilitating the integration of renewable generation, while our gas transmission assets could help support the introduction and scale up of renewable gases Northern Ireland, such as biomethane and hydrogen.

As a gas transmission system operator and gas market operator for Northern Ireland it is important that we position the company to assist in the development of strategically important pathfinder projects that will help accelerate the energy transition here, as well as to support and facilitate other industry stakeholders to bring forward and develop commercial energy transition projects.

Significant investment in new strategic energy infrastructure will be required to successfully transition Northern Ireland to zero carbon energy. Mutual Energy can play an important role in reducing the cost of that investment.

Appropriate license structures could allow us to achieve a low cost of capital, especially for long-term strategic investments that may be less attractive to the private sector, due to their high upfront capital expenditure and long investment horizons.

Mutual Energy was a partner of Ballylumford Power-To-X, a year-long pilot project exploring how a full-cycle hydrogen economy can be achieved in Northern Ireland. More information on the project can be found here.

Key areas of interest for Mutual Energy include:

• Hydrogen
• Biomethane
• Renewable gas interconnection
• Electrical interconnection
• Large-scale energy storage solutions
• Offshore grid development
• Geothermal energy
• Carbon capture and storage solutions
• Cross-border policy coordination
• Development of appropriate market arrangements.

Our Team

The Energy Transition function is a small but growing strategic team within the business.

For further information on energy transition matters please contact Mark or a member of the team.

Mark Alexnder

Mark Alexander

Energy Transition Manager

Cait Long

Cait Long

Energy Transition Policy Lead

Mark Alexnder

Sarah Shields

Energy Transition Analyst