Anna Lo MLA said: “Energy is essential to every aspect of our lives and it is vital we plan how we will access energy in the long term. We rely on imported fossil fuels for 99% of our energy needs which includes not only electricity but also heating and transport demands. This is a deeply worrying statistic and although 14% of electricity in NI is currently generated from renewables, it is only making a marginal contribution to energy forms in Northern Ireland. We need to find alternatives to prepare for a fossil fuel free energy future.
“Crude Oil production from existing fields is dropping steadily from its peak in the late 1960s. It is calculated that only one barrel of oil is discovered for every three consumed. According to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2012: we only have 54 years of oil and 63 years of gas left, so what should a place that is 99% dependent on imported fossil fuels do in the long term? How will we meet our energy needs? Where will we source the energy we need to grow, distribute, transport and prepare our food; to run our hospitals, our schools and all the other public services on a daily basis?
“The current Strategic Energy Framework only concentrates on the short term as it only looks to 2020, we need a long term energy strategy to radically bring new energy sources online. Even in the short term it does not go far enough, as it does not look at our transport needs and says that we should be only targeting to get 40% of our electricity and 10% of our heating energy from renewable sources.
“By creating our own energy sources such as wind, tidal or solar, we would create a large number of jobs and help boost our economy, and in particular our struggling construction sector. The carbon trust says that if we met 15% of our energy needs through renewable energy sources by 2020, we could create 31,000 jobs and add £1 billion to our economy.
“If we do not develop a long term energy strategy with mandatory targets for 2050, we could face an energy crisis with a lack of energy security as prices continue to rise dramatically.”
Alliance motion to be debated on Tuesday 20th November
That this Assembly notes that approximately 99 percent of primary energy needs are met from imported fossil fuels which costs approximately £2.3 billion annually; recognises the need to improve energy security and energy independence; further notes the importance of reducing the cost and our exposure to price fluctuations in fossil fuels, while creating Northern Ireland based jobs through the expansion of indigenous renewables and low carbon energy sources; and calls on the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment in conjunction with the Executive to develop a long-term energy strategy for a low carbon future.’
[Ms Lo, Mr Lunn, Mr McCarthy]