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


***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 expect discussion on the impact 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
  • 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
  • Balancing priorities - costs, competition, innovation and fuel poverty

Developments that are relevant to the discussion:

  • a new Energy Strategy:
    • drafting by the Department for Economy of NI’s long term strategy which will run from 2021-2050, following the consultation - with expected measures for:
      • emissions - enhancing sustainability and delivering on climate change law by 2050
      • competition - building competitive markets for consumers and businesses
      • infrastructure
      • regulation and governance
    • Micro Inquiry into the Energy Strategy - the Committee for the Economy preparing its report for sharing with the Department for Economy
  • Mallon grants planning permission for North South Electricity Interconnector - the recent decision by the Infrastructure Minister
  • Tomorrow’s Energy Scenarios Northern Ireland - SONI’s report on energy transition towards the overall UK net-zero target for 2050
  • the Reducing emissions in Northern Ireland report - with concerns from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC):
    • progress - finding that the region needs to catch up to meet the UK’s 2050 Net Zero obligations
    • prospects - estimating that, on the current trajectory, NI would fall short of the 2030 level recommended by the Committee
  • energy security - the focus for Northern Ireland as the UK negotiates its future relationship with the EU

The discussion in detail:

  • policy priorities - key issues emerging from the Energy Strategy consultation - with a white paper expected to be published in due course
  • climate change - 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:
    • conventional energy - its position in a low carbon economy
    • promoting renewable energy - priorities going forward, including funding and provision of incentives for the renewable electricity industry and supply chains
    • decarbonising the heat sector - with the majority of homes in Northern Ireland heated by oil, and the previous unsuccessful renewable heat programme
  • energy markets - looking at their future in Northern Ireland, including the potential impact of Brexit and the progress of the Integrated Single Electricity Market Project (I-SEM)
  • infrastructure - and priorities for Norther Ireland’s energy transition:
    • investment - in grid capacity to allow for the development of further renewable energy production
    • smart - the way forward for greater grid flexibility and system upgrades
    • LEVs - including the electrification of private transport, and requirements for a shift to greater number of electric vehicles and build the capacity for electrification of other sectors
  • energy security - priorities in the context of UK negotiations with the EU over the future relationship:
    • diversification - increasing the range of energy sources
    • imports - prospects decreasing reliance
    • connections - energy links with the rest of the UK and the Republic of Ireland, including the second North/South Interconnector following the return of the Executive
  • transition:
    • stakeholders - implications for the energy sector, business customers, and consumers, and managing the impact
    • costs for consumers - maintaining low household bills and reducing the high rate of fuel poverty
    • business costs - promoting business competitiveness in Northern Ireland, and options for reducing the high costs for large energy users
    • innovation - including the 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 for the Economy; the Department for Infrastructure; the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment; the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs; the Northern Ireland Environment Agency; the Northern Ireland Audit Office; the Committee on Climate Change; the Department for Education; and BEIS.

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

Kevin Shiels

Director of Retail Markets, Utility Regulator

Keynote Speakers

Thomas Byrne

Director, Energy Strategy, Department for the Economy

Andrew Ryan

Partner, Planning, Environment and Clean Energy, TLT Solicitors and Member, UK Environmental Law Association

Marguerite Sayers

Executive Director, Electric Ireland

Kevin Shiels

Director of Retail Markets, Utility Regulator

Senior speaker confirmed from SONI


Sinead McLaughlin MLA

Deputy Chair, Committee for the Economy

John Stewart MLA

Member, Committee for the Economy


Jonathan Martindale

Director of Business Development, Phoenix Natural Gas

Randal Gilbert

Head of Network Strategy, Northern Ireland Electricity Networks

Richard Halsey

Capabilities Director, Energy Systems Catapult

Charles Sheldon

Director, Foresight Group

Don McGarrigle

Northern Ireland Manager, Major Energy Users Company

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