Policy Forum for Northern Ireland

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7951044809 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7538736244.
For delegates already booked on, we will send you the online joining instructions (including links, event numbers and passwords) five working days before your conference. If you cannot find these in your inbox please email delegate.relations@forumsupport.co.uk

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.

Discussion will also 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.

The agenda:

  • Energy Policy in Northern Ireland - key priorities for the energy strategy - with a senior speaker confirmed from the Department for the Economy
  • The role of the energy sector in meeting the 2050 net zero targets
  • Next steps for the development of the grid and interconnectors - with Jo Aston, Managing Director, SONI
  • Ensuring security of supply and effective infrastructure to meet future energy needs
  • Challenges for the market in the energy transition - with Jenny Pyper, Chief Executive, Utility Regulator
  • Balancing priorities - costs, competition, innovation and fuel poverty

Developments that are relevant to the discussion:

  • The drafting of a new Strategic Energy Framework by the Department for Economy - NI’s long term strategy which will run from 2021-2050 - with expected measures for:
    • enhancing sustainability and delivering on climate change law by 2050
    • building competitive markets for consumers and businesses
    • developing energy infrastructure
    • future regulation and governance
  • The Committee for the Economy’s ongoing micro inquiry into the Energy Strategy for Northern Ireland, ahead of liaison with the Department for Economy and a short report
  • A Climate Change Bill expected to be introduced in the coming year
  • Concerns from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) 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
  • CCC recommendations for Northern Ireland from their advice on the UK’s Sixth Carbon Budget due to be published in September
  • 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

The discussion in detail:

Energy policy in Northern Ireland - the newly formed Executive’s priorities, 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • use of data to reduce cost and use of energy

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 of Communications, Climate Action & Environment; the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs; the Northern Ireland Environment Agency; Department for the Economy; the Department for Infrastructure; the Department for Education; and the Committee on Climate Change.

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 Speaker

Jenny Pyper

Chief Executive, Utility Regulator

Keynote Speakers

Senior speaker confirmed from the Department for the Economy

Marguerite Sayers

Executive Director, Electric Ireland

Jo Aston

Managing Director, SONI

Jenny Pyper

Chief Executive, Utility Regulator


John Stewart MLA

Member, Committee for the Economy


Jonathan Martindale

Director of Business Development, Phoenix Natural Gas

Richard Halsey

Capabilities Director, Energy Systems Catapult

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