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19/04/2024

Economy Minister Welcomed To SONI's Control Centre

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System Operator for Northern Ireland (SONI) welcomed the Minister for the Economy, Conor Murphy, to its control centre in Belfast this week where he voiced the importance of innovation in renewable energy.

During his visit, the Minister engaged with SONI's team of grid control engineers, who oversee the continuous management of the electricity grid at the Control Centre. He received a briefing on the role of emerging technologies like Long Duration Energy Storage in ensuring the safety, security and reliability of the electricity supply as Northern Ireland shifts towards a predominantly renewables-based power system.

The Minister also met the grid operator's senior leadership team to discuss advancements in upgrading the power system to support the delivery of Northern Ireland's renewable energy targets, including updates on critical projects such as the North South Interconnector.

Minister for the Economy, Conor Murphy, said: "A just transition towards net-zero is a critical objective of my Economic Vision. As decarbonisation will play a key role in the transition to a greener and more sustainable economy, I was pleased to visit SONI to hear further about the progress in decarbonising the electricity grid.

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"As the grid operator, SONI is central to supporting my renewable energy ambitions. Transforming the grid’s infrastructure and how it’s used is vital for ensuring we deliver an affordable and secure energy future for all.

"We face the same short-term challenges in transitioning to a renewables-based power system as our counterparts across the world, but the energy transition also provides huge economic opportunities that can generate good jobs, improve productivity and address regional imbalance."

SONI Chief Executive Alan Campbell said: "As Northern Ireland’s Transmission System Operator, SONI was pleased welcome the Minister to our headquarters to hear more about our mission to transform the power system for future generations. Given the expertise and experience of our team, we work closely with the Department for the Economy as a trusted adviser on the energy transition.

"While Northern Ireland’s 2030 renewable energy targets are very ambitious and challenging, the social, economic and environmental opportunities afforded by this once-in-a-generation transition are huge.

"Working together, we need to deliver the biggest upgrade to our electricity system since electrification itself. With less than six years until 2030, now is the time to focus on opportunities to accelerate delivery and remove any barriers to progress."

As the Transmission System Operator for Northern Ireland, SONI ensures electricity flows efficiently from its source to where it's required now, while also preparing the grid for Northern Ireland's future renewable energy goals. To handle the increased use of renewable energy, the grid and its operations require substantial upgrades like never before. The visit to SONI follows the recent publication of the Department for the Economy’s Energy Strategy Action Plan 2024.

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