The NIRO is the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment’s (DETI) main policy instrument for incentivising renewable electricity generation. The Government Target is to produce 20% of electricity from renewable energy by 2020.
The Renewables Obligation places a legal requirement on all Northern Ireland licensed electricity suppliers to provide Ofgem (on behalf of the Northern Ireland Authority for Utility Regulation (NIAUR)) with evidence that a specified quantity of the electricity supplied to final consumers can be accounted for by generation from renewable sources. This specified quantity is measured in megawatt hours (MWh). Obligation Certificates (NIROCs) which are issued free of charge by Ofgem to electricity generators for each MWh of eligible renewable generation. Current NIROCS tariffs are shown in the table below:
It is planned to close the Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation (NIRO) to new generation from 1 April 2017, the Department has published a statutory consultation on transition options for large scale renewables projects with the introduction of Contracts for Difference (CFD). The consultation also sets out proposals in relation to specific grace periods for all eligible large and small scale projects.
Chapter 2 of the consultation sets out proposals for the operation of the NIRO during the period of transition to the new CFD support mechanism for large scale generation above 5MW. Chapter 3 sets out proposals or the eligibility criteria and lengths that will apply to the grace periods to be offered at the point of NIRO closure to new generating capacity.