Energy landscape evolves with the Winds of change
Low costs for consumers, a secure energy supply and reaching renewable energy targets are three challenges the energy markets of Great Britain and Northern Ireland face. However, NI also has to work with the Republic of Ireland to remain compliant with UK policies.
Radical changes have been introduced in NI to meet the growing demands of the target model presented by the EU. The aim is to level out pricing across Europe so everyone receives similar pricing for energy. Some companies are being really clever with their solar usage and using Brise Soleil through Aluminium Systems to get solar shading which allows for less overheating and more efficiency in the work place.
The integrated single electricity market
To take this one step further, plans are now in place to create an integrated single electricity market (I-SEM), which should be ready to go live in 2017. This will drive further focus on good value for consumers, removing inefficiencies and innovation. In conjunction with this, the Utility Regulator also hopes to squeeze even more benefits out of the market in the future.
Jenny Piper, the chief executive of the Utility Regulator, spoke in Belfast at an energy policy conference and suggested that the capacity pot of Ireland has been reduced by 10 per cent recently. This means that larger consumers are enjoying savings of £10,000 to £12,000, while domestic customers are seeing savings of £5 to £6.
However, these domestic electricity prices are 10 per cent higher in NI than they are in GB, with a major factor being that the SEM has wholesale electricity prices that are higher than the GB market by 20 per cent. Despite that, the Consumer Council has found that the level of trust in pricing is higher in NI than GB.
A single electricity market
To create unity and to get rid of the three separate markets of Great Britain, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, the single electricity market (SEM) was born. This brought together the south and north of Ireland to create one market, and it was launched in 2007.
The SEM works by creating transparency in the market, which contrasts to the GB market. Instead of each provider generating its own electricity, the SEM is a single market where a pool of bids from generators is created from which suppliers can purchase. Customers using companies who sell solar panels then benefit from this clarity as they can see what the generators are paying for electricity.