This is a significant milestone as it is the first time that wind has contributed more than 500MW to energy needs in Northern Ireland, and represented 36% of total electricity needs at that moment.
Gary Connolly, Outgoing Chairman of Northern Ireland Renewables Industry Group (NIRIG), said: “Throughout December, wind energy regularly contributed upwards of 40% of Northern Ireland electricity demand. These record-breaking levels were facilitated by an additional 59.8MW of wind energy being connected to the electricity grid in 2013, bringing our total installed wind farm capacity to 531.4MW, which equates to 345,410 homes being powered.
“Our renewable energy target of 40% electricity consumption from renewable sources by 2020 will be within sight if we continue to have a healthy and consistent build-out rate for renewables.
“Last year was also a record-breaking year for renewable energy across the UK and Ireland. In Great Britain in December, a traditionally high demand month, wind power supplied 10% of the total electricity demand for homes, businesses and factories.
“In the Republic of Ireland, by 7am on 15 December 2013, a staggering 59.99% of electricity demand was being met by wind energy. Indeed throughout the month of December, wind provided, on average, almost 30% of demand in the Irish system.”
In addition to providing a source of renewable energy, the wind and marine sectors are providing sustainable employment opportunities.
Onshore wind is by far the most important source of renewable energy employment in Northern Ireland and accounts for nearly 70% of total wind and marine-sector employment here. Direct employment in wind, wave and tidal sectors here has now reached 750 people, with a high percentage of these jobs being skilled, technical or managerial.