Diverse 2050

  • Northern Ireland 2050
  • Last updated
  • Open scenario

Energy Strategy for Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland has created ETM scenarios to explore policy options for their new Energy Strategy. The body responsible for advising the UK and devolved governments on climate change – the Climate Change Committee (CCC) – has advised that Northern Ireland’s contribution is an 82% reduction in all greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The CCC has advised that an 82% reduction in total greenhouse gas emissions is consistent with net zero carbon in Northern Ireland. As almost all (96%) of energy-related emissions are carbon, the focus in the Energy Strategy is to achieve net zero carbon-energy by 2050.

On 31 March 2021 Minister Diane Dodds has launched the Policy Options Consultation Paper for the new Energy Strategy. For more information on this consultation have a look on the website of the Department for the Economy of Northern Ireland. On this page you can also find a detailed report presenting the assumptions behind their scenarios. This report describes different plausible energy system transition pathways for NI to achieve net zero carbon-energy by 2050. This report analyses the development of the NI energy system across four scenarios:

  1. Business as Usual
  2. High Electrification
  3. High Gasification
  4. Diverse


This scenario takes in to account of the considerable regional differences in Northern Ireland and includes higher levels of local involvement as well as local responses to the low-carbon transition. Heat and transport have quite different solutions depending on location and geography and for power may imply a more decentralised system. There is an intermediate target of 80% renewable electricity by 2030. The power sector is fully decarbonised by 2050, through local ambition and public sector leadership this comprises a wide range of small, medium and large-scale renewable generation as local opportunities are maximised.

Investment in public transport, active travel and increased flexibility in working arrangements combined with place based solutions that are tailored to the locality and which involve the local people can address connectivity needs, particularly in rural areas, meaning that transport demand is significantly lower. Hydrogen is used for the ‘hard-to-electrify’ transport sector and for heating within domestic sector.

Energy efficiency improvements are supported consistently and the energy performance of buildings improves through the introduction of increasingly high standards for new builds as well as a comprehensive retrofit programme. There are higher numbers of off-grid energy solutions, particularly for heat. These include a significant focus on heat pumps and use of biofuels, such as Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (HVO) fuel in earlier stages of transition. The existing gas network is decarbonised through the use of locally-produced biomethane and hydrogen.

Key assumptions are:

  • Diverse mix of heating solutions.
  • Heating oil displaced mainly through biofuel in early stages of transition before other technologies become more prevalent.
  • Introduction of district heating.
  • Electric and hydrogen powered cars, vans, HGV and public transport fleet.
  • RES-E target 80% in 2030 achieved, 100% in 2050.
  • Lower final energy demand through:
    • Substantial increase in energy efficiency measures across domestic and non-domestic sectors;
    • Increase in public transport usage, walking, wheeling and cycling; and
    • Larger reduction in energy consumption due to heightened awareness amongst the population from a more decentralised approach.

Further details on the sources of all data items utilised to build the base year for 2018 are available at the ETM Library.