While wind continues to be the dominant source for renewable electricity in Northern Ireland, generation from other sources has more than doubled in five years.
Latest figures on electricity consumption in Northern Ireland show that the pandemic changed patterns of electricity consumption, at least initially.
The first five months of the government-imposed lockdown to mitigate the pandemic, April to August 2020, saw the five lowest monthly electricity consumption volumes on record in Northern Ireland, reflecting an initial shutdown of many industries.
By March 2021, electricity consumption in Northern Ireland from renewable sources, on a rolling 12-month average, sat at 46.4 per cent. The figure is in excess of the 40 per cent target for 2021 but still sits significantly below the 70 per cent by 2030 target set out by the Department for the Economy.
The figures for March 2020 to March 2021 represent a slight decrease of 0.5 per cent on the previous 12-month period and March’s 2021’s 49.4 per cent of electricity consumed from renewable sources is also less than the 54 per cent recorded for the same month a year ago.
However, progress in Northern Ireland can be seen in the context that the latest figures represent a five-fold increase in electricity consumption from renewables in Northern Ireland from initial recording in 2002.
Roughly 3,413 GWh were generated from renewables in the 12 months to March 2021, in the context of overall energy consumption of some 7,359 GWh.
Renewable electricity generated from onshore wind continues to dominate in Northern Ireland, representing 83.7 per cent of generation between April 2020 and March 2021.
The proportion of renewable electricity generation has not fluctuated much between wind and non-wind sources over the last two years but looking over a longer term, it is evident that non-wind renewable generation volumes have substantially increased in recent years.
For the 12 months to March 2021, non-wind renewable electricity generation volumes in Northern Ireland were 554.6 GWh. This figure is over two times higher than the 247.4 GWh recorded five years ago, for the period ending March 2016.