Policy Forum for Northern Ireland

Conferences that are scheduled to take place before September will be conducted online.
The format will mirror physical conferences organised by the Forum with speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish.
The conferences will be chaired and there will be opportunities for delegate questions and comments.
We will be contacting all participants in advance of each conference with full information and guidance on how to take part.
There will be some exceptions where conferences will be postponed, for instance those that would largely involve key stakeholders in the NHS or emergency services.
All participants affected by this will be informed as soon as possible.
If you’d like to speak to us over the phone about any booking-related queries, please call one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7951044809 / +044 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7538736244

The future for Northern Ireland energy policy - the energy strategy and net zero targets, security of supply, and the impact on industry and consumers

Morning, Wednesday, 18th November 2020

Online Conference


***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will examine the future for energy policy in Northern Ireland - and implications for the energy sector, its partners and customers.

We also discussion to reflect the impact on key stakeholders of the COVID-19 crisis, lessons that can be learned for the future, and extra support that might be needed going forward.

Key areas for discussion:

  • The newly formed Executive’s priorities for energy policy in Northern Ireland, with the Strategic Energy Framework white paper expected to be published in the second half of this year;
  • The role of the energy sector in meeting carbon emission goals - in the context of the anticipated Climate Change Bill proposed in the New Decade, New Approach agreement - including:
    • the position of conventional energy in a low carbon economy,
    • priorities for further promoting renewable energy - including funding, and provision of incentives for the renewable electricity industry and supply chains, and
    • the role of decarbonising the heat sector - in light of the majority of homes in Northern Ireland heated by oil and the previous unsuccessful renewable heat programme.
  • The future energy market in Northern Ireland, including the potential impact of Brexit on the market and on the progress of I-SEM - Ireland’s integrated single energy market;
  • Infrastructure priorities for Norther Ireland’s energy transition - including:
    • investment in grid capacity to allow for the development of further renewable energy production,
    • support greater grid flexibility and smart system upgrades, and
    • electrification of private transport, including requirements for a shift to greater number of electric vehicles and build the capacity for electrification of other sectors.
  • Energy security - in the context of UK negotiations with the EU over their future relationship - including priorities for:
    • increasing diversity of energy sources,
    • decreasing reliance on imported fuels, and
    • ensuring energy connections with the rest of the UK and the Republic of Ireland, including the second north/south interconnector following the return of the Executive.
  • Managing the impact of transition on the energy sector, business customers, and consumers:
    • maintaining low cost for domestic consumers and reducing the high rate of fuel poverty,
    • promoting business competitiveness in Northern Ireland by reducing the high costs for large energy users, and
    • use of data to reduce cost and use of energy.

Developments that are relevant to the discussion:

It takes place with:

  • The drafting of a new Strategic Energy Framework by the Department for Economy - NI’s long term strategy which will run from 2021-2050 - which is expected to cover:
    • enhancing sustainability and delivering on climate change law by 2050;
    • building competitive markets for consumers and businesses;
    • developing energy infrastructure; and
    • future regulation and governance.
  • The declaration of a climate emergency in Stormont;
  • A Climate Change Bill expected to be introduced in the coming year;
  • Concerns from the Committee on Climate Change in their Reducing emissions in Northern Ireland report that:
    • the region needs to play catch up to meet the UK’s 2050 Net Zero obligations,
    • on the current trajectory, NI would fall short of the 2030 level recommended by the committee.
  • UK negotiations with the EU over their future relationship - with delegates expected to assess the priorities for energy security in Northern Ireland;
  • Delays in planning permission for the second north/south interconnector in Northern Ireland due to the absence of the Executive; and
  • Recommendations for Northern Ireland from the Committee’s advice on the UK’s Sixth Carbon Budget due to be published in September.

The agenda:

  • Energy Policy in Northern Ireland - key priorities for the energy strategy;
  • The role of the energy sector in meeting the 2050 net zero targets;
  • Next steps for the development of the grid and interconnectors;
  • Ensuring security of supply and effective infrastructure to meet future energy needs;
  • Challenges for the market in the energy transition; and
  • Balancing priorities - costs, competition and fuel poverty.

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders.

It’s certainly the case with this one. Places have been reserved by officials from the Department for Economy; the Department for Education; the Department for the Economy; the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment; and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speakers

Senior speaker confirmed from the Department for the Economy

Jo Aston

Managing Director, SONI

Jenny Pyper

Chief Executive, Utility Regulator


John Stewart MLA

Member, Committee for the Economy


A senior speaker confirmed from Phoenix Natural Gas

Charles Sheldon

Director, Foresight Group

Stephen Kelly

Chief Executive, Manufacturing Northern Ireland

Dr David Joffe

Head of Carbon Budgets, Committee on Climate Change

Rachel Anderson

Chair, Northern Ireland Renewables Industry Group

Dr Inna Vorushylo

Project Lead, Zero-IN on NI Heat

Pat Austin

Director, National Energy Action Northern Ireland

Paulino Garcia

Head of Energy Policy, The Consumer Council