The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) and energy provider AES UK & Ireland have signed a prosperity agreement.
Containing five key commitments, the agreement aims to deliver a range of benefits over the next five years including reduced carbon emissions, improved biodiversity on site and enhanced relations with the local community.
Under the agreement, AES will progress an additional 100MW battery storage array in Northern Ireland to support greater integration of renewable energy generation. This will save an estimated 123,000 tonnes of carbon each year, equivalent to taking 128,250 cars off the road.
Speaking at the signing event at AES Kilroot Power Station, Carrickfergus, NIEA Chief Executive David Small said: “This is the fifth prosperity agreement the NIEA has now signed with high performing Northern Ireland businesses.
“Each agreement enshrines a company’s commitment to a sustainable future for its business and the Northern Ireland environment. The agreement with AES contains some key targets which will help the energy generation sector’s transition to greater use of renewable and low carbon solutions.
“We believe these prosperity agreements are a useful regulatory tool which helps NIEA to work strategically with business. They also help companies to maintain excellent compliance with their obligations and to look for new commercial opportunities with environmental benefits.”
AES is a leading energy provider in Northern Ireland and is investing in its assets to improve sustainability and to accelerate a transition to new energy solutions while ensuring cost effective, security of supply for consumers.
The agreement demonstrates its commitment to improve environmental performance and business growth, while also delivering the best environmental outcomes for Northern Ireland. In addition, collaboration has also started on a joint marine monitoring plan which meets the needs of AES and NIEA in terms of data quality, improved sampling techniques and information sharing.
Also speaking at the signing, AES UK & Ireland President Ian Luney said: “As a company, we are delighted to be signing this agreement with NIEA which recognises the positive relationship we have built with the regulator and enables us to reach for even more aspirational environmental targets.
“A partnership approach such as this can help businesses to address the step changes which are needed to respond to the challenges of climate change, resource efficiency and support Northern Ireland’s economic growth.
“With last year’s installation of the Kilroot Advancion® Energy Storage Array, AES is leading the way in promoting and supporting sustainable technological solutions for energy management and power generation and we look forward to seeing the actions outlined in the agreement bear fruit.”
Prosperity agreements are voluntary agreements, signed between NIEA and a company or organisation. They contain commitments from both NIEA and the company which will deliver significant environmental benefits, going beyond legal requirements to develop a more strategic approach between business and regulator and to help businesses realise environmental gains which will increase their competiveness.
The agreements do not remove any legal environmental obligations on the business and NIEA will still take any appropriate enforcement action, if it is required, to ensure regulatory compliance and protect the environment.