Firmus Energy to invest additional £120million to developing its network
Pictured (L-R): Firmus Energy chairman Dr David Dobbin CBE and company CEO Niall Martindale were joined at the energy briefing by AFRY’s Lucy Field and Ulster Bank NI’s Chief Economist Richard Ramsey.
Senior politicians joined business leaders, stakeholders, and customers at the 13th annual Firmus Energy stakeholder briefing as Northern Ireland’s largest supplier of natural gas outlined its £120m investment plan to develop its network over the next five years along with its ambitious plans to transition to net zero carbon.
Held at the Dunadry Hotel in Antrim, over eighty delegates from across the region came together for the information event to hear about the current state of the energy sector, forecasted market trends, and current challenges including theimpact of the on-going conflict between Ukraine and Russia, post-Brexit trading arrangements, and the legacy of Covid.
Welcoming the delegates, company Chairman, Dr David Dobbin CBE, said that recent environmental disasters such as flooding in Libya and wildfires in Greece were a “harsh reminder” of the need to transition to net zero carbon. He confirmed that firmus energy will invest £120m developing its network between now and 2028, connecting an additional 32,000 customers.
Firmus Energy chairman Dr David Dobbin CBE addresses guests at the annual energy briefing event which took place in Antrim’s Dunadry Hotel.
This year alone, £17m is being invested bringing gas to Eglinton, Waringstown, Portballintrae and Crumlin Phase 1. With over 67,000 customers currently connected across its network area, the next 5 years will see that figure rise to around 100,000 connections.
“We continue to work closely with the Utility Regulatorand senior officials in the DfE and DAERA to progress the goals of the Energy Strategy published in December 2021 and to support pathways for lower carbon energy across all sectors of our economy in Northern Ireland,” said Dr Dobbin CBE. “The move to net zero will be challenging but there are many benefits from making the transition.”
In his up-date on the Antrim-based business, Firmus Energy CEO Niall Martindale said it continues to push ahead with plans to decarbonise its operations.
“There is a clear drive towards renewable carbon neutral energy and firmus energy, as a locally based company, is right at the heart of this,” he said. “These are times of change across the energy sector and as the largest supplier of natural gas in Northern Ireland, we are already and firmly on the road to net zero. Every customer we switch from oil to gas reduces carbon emissions immediately by 52%*.
“Biomethane is a word people will hear more of in the future. It is a clean, renewable, green prize we cannot afford to ignore because it makes sense on every level. Recent studies by Queen’s University state that 80% of the current gas demand in Northern Ireland could be met by Biomethane produced in Anaerobic Digestion (AD) plants from existing housed livestock slurry along with an increase in silage yield.
“The first Biomethane connection into the natural gas network is expected to take place in November this year and that will be a major milestone for the natural gas industry in Northern Ireland. Biomethane is a good news story, not just for us but for Northern Ireland PLC, our economy, and our environment,” he added.
Niall Martindale, the CEO of Firmus Energy, takes part in a Q&A session with Ulster Bank NI’s Chief Economist Richard Ramsey (far left) and AFRY’s Lucy Field.
The briefing also heard from Lucy Field from AFRY Management Consulting, who explained how gas prices are close to where they were prior to the start of the global disruptions. Ulster Bank NI’s Chief Economist, Richard Ramsey, set out Northern Ireland’s ‘Barbenheimer Economy’ and how this was “a beach for some and a timebomb for others.”
He explored inflation and the labour market, the affordability squeeze, and what the road ahead looks like over the next 24 months for those of working and retirement age.
To discuss how your home or business could benefit from connecting to the natural gas network, please call Firmus Energy customer service on 03300 249000 – or visit www.firmusenergy.co.uk.
*Based on switching your home heating system from a 15-year-old Sedbuk F rated oil boiler without controls, to a new Sedbuk A rated natural gas boiler with heating controls, used correctly.