Northern Ireland’s energy companies have a crucial role to play in the island’s single energy market, the widening of competition, and the drive to become net electricity exporters – those were some of the messages at the recent CBI/IBEC event in Belfast which saw energy regulators, generators, officials and Ministers discuss the future of Europe’s internal energy market.
The event was the only EU Presidency Associated event to be held outside the Republic of Ireland during Ireland EU Presidency 2013 and was jointly organised by the CBI and IBEC. Department of Enterprise, Trade & Investment Minister Arlene Foster MLA and Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte TD were joined by the Head of ACER (Agency for the Cooperation of European Regulators) Christophe Gence-Creux, Konstatin Staschus, Secretary General of ENTSO-E, the umbrella group for European network operators along with IBEC Chief Executive Danny McCoy and Ian Coulter, CBI NI Chairman.
Speaking at the event, DETI Minister Arlene Foster MLA said: “Full market integration across Europe presents many challenges, but if we get it right, it opens up our small market to wider competition. The potential advantages are far-reaching.”
Pat Rabbitte, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources said: “I believe in the potential of further market integration, learning from the success of the Single Electricity Market and taking account of further energy cooperation across these islands, to unlock benefits for all customers through the completion of a truly competitive energy market across Europe. Of course the real implementation of a single European energy market is dependent also on greater physical interconnection between member states.”
CBI Northern Ireland President Ian Coulter said: “Energy costs are a major issue for businesses in Northern Ireland and have been shown to be an impediment to business growth. In the longer term improved integration and competition across energy markets in the EU could mean a better deal for local business and domestic energy users. It also offers unprecedented opportunity for energy companies to become exporters toBritainand further afield. Today’s local energy providers can become tomorrow’s electricity exporters through government support and sustainable investment in infrastructure improvements. With such a plan in place, Northern Ireland can make optimal use of its renewable and non-renewable energy resources, realising benefits for generators, customers and the wider economy.”
Eighteen speakers and panellists took part in the event including representatives from energy regulators, energy supply companies, grid operators and others.