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Media releases

08 Mar 2018

Energy industry chief - Brexit 'red flags' for energy in Northern Ireland

One of the UK energy world's leading voices will today address industry leaders in Belfast, setting out energy professionals - 'red flags' about Brexit.

Steve Holliday FREng FEI, who spent 10 years as Chief Executive at National Grid and is now Vice President of the Energy Institute, will address members of the Institute at the Europa Hotel, Belfast, alongside Jenny Pyper, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Utility Regulator.

In his speech, as well as the transition to low carbon energy and the need for greater diversity in the sector, he will focus on Brexit:

“It’s vital that the energy industry seeks to inform and influence the events unfolding before us. And red flags have been raised by energy professionals around Brexit. 

“I have no doubt this uncertainty is amplified here in Northern Ireland in relation to the land border with the Republic. 

“Thankfully, the Prime Minister sought to allay fears in her speech last week and spoke of “broad energy cooperation with the EU” and “protecting the single electricity market across Ireland and Northern Ireland”. But the devil is going to be in the detail. 

“During my decade leading National Grid I was acutely aware of the interconnected nature of the UK’s energy system. The efficiencies available through trading energy with our European neighbours offer huge benefits to consumers, resilience to our economy and the environment. About 5% of the UK’s electricity and 44% of the gas we use is imported from Europe.

“While the UK may be leaving the EU in political terms, the pipes and wires that connect us remain and we will continue to be joined in physical terms. 

“But there are concerns about new tariffs being levied that could create barriers for energy-related foreign direct investment and lead to increased cost and delays in the construction of energy infrastructure.

“For Northern Ireland, Brexit adds further complexity to the already complex process of establishing the Integrated Single Energy Market. 

“It could also encourage Ireland to pursue the so-called Celtic Interconnector with France, and proposals for LNG importation into Ireland, bypassing the UK altogether.

“If projects like the proposed new North South 400kV interconnector are to go ahead unhindered, existing EU energy laws that govern how our markets work need to be transferred seamlessly into UK law, alongside a comprehensive energy and climate chapter in the future trade agreement with the EU.

“The future of energy is smart. But Brexit is not smart if it means reducing the interaction between markets and the ability to move skills to where they’re needed, limiting the benefits to the consumer in terms of affordability and reliability, and the planet in terms of emissions."

Notes for editors

1.For media enquiries and interview bids please contact Neil Michie, Communications Manager, on 020 7467 7132 or nmichie@energyinst.org

2.The Northern Ireland Branch Annual Dinner, is taking place on Thursday 8 March at the Europa Hotel, Belfast. More details can be found at: https://www.energyinst.org/events/view/5088

3.The Energy Institute (EI) is the chartered professional membership body bringing global energy expertise together.

We’re a unique network with insight spanning the world of energy, from conventional oil and gas to the most innovative renewable and energy efficient technologies.

The global energy industry, the people working in it and wider society all benefit from the EI’s work.

We gather and share essential knowledge about energy, provide the skills that are helping us all use it more wisely, and develop the good practice needed to keep it safe and secure.

We articulate the voice of energy experts, taking the know-how of around 20,000 members and 250 companies from 120 countries to the heart of the public debate.

And we’re an independent, not-for-profit, safe space for evidence-based collaboration, an honest broker between industry, academia and policy makers.

The EI is here for anyone who wants to better understand or contribute to the extraordinary energy system on which we all depend.