Further to the announcement by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) on 18 June 2015 to close the Renewables Obligations (RO) across Great Britain (GB) on 1 April 2016 to new onshore wind generation, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment in Northern Ireland (DETI) announced yesterday that they intend to close the Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation (NIRO) to all new wind projects from 1 April 2016.

Renewable Energy in Northern Ireland (NI) is a devolved matter and DETI have previously sought to reassure the onshore wind industry in NI of its support for the industry. However, DETI maintain that this move is necessary pursuant to discussions they have had with DECC, which have indicated that should DETI maintain a different policy on the NIRO closure to the rest of GB, the cost impact of that decision would be borne solely by the relatively small number of NI consumers rather than by all consumers across the UK.

The full consultation text can be found here.

Grace Period

Similarly to the DECC proposals, DETI have proposed a 12 month grace period.  

In order to be eligible for the proposed early closure grace period, projects will need to demonstrate that they satisfy all of the grace period conditions as of 30 October 2015 for cluster connected projects (i.e shared grid connections – click here) or 30 September 2015 for non-cluster connections.

The grace period would apply to projects which are able to:

  1. Demonstrate that they have relevant planning permission dated no later than the relevant eligibility date;
  2. Demonstrate that they have a grid connection offer and acceptance of that offer, both dated no later than the relevant eligibility date or confirmation that no grid connection is required; and
  3. Provide a Director’s Certificate confirming that, as at the relevant eligibility date, the developer or proposed operator of the station owns the land on which the station is to be situated or has an option or agreement to lease the land or is party to an exclusivity agreement in relation to the land.

Projects that satisfy the period criteria would be able to accredit under the NIRO up to 31 March 2017. If they cannot accredit by that date due to grid or radar delays, they may apply for a further grace period of 12 months up to 31 March 2018.

Implementation

Subject to NI Assembly approval, a Closure Order for wind will be made in due course.

Ofgem will only be able to assess eligibility for grace periods once it is content that all other eligibility criteria have been met and the project has been commissioned.

Responses

The consultation runs for a period of two weeks and closes for responses on 14 October 2015.

Responses can be made:

via email to: NIRO2015@detini.gov.uk

or by post to:

Renewable Electricity Branch

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment

Netherleigh

Massey Avenue

BELFAST

BT4 2JP