SOLAR: The next energy opportunity

25 January 2016


Carson McDowell played a key role in bringing together leading players in the energy industry this week by sponsoring Northern Ireland’s first major solar energy conference at the Grand Opera House in Belfast. ‘Solar: The next energy opportunity’ was a timely and important conference which explored the solar energy landscape in Northern Ireland, delving into what could prove to be the next big trend for the local renewables sector. While Northern Ireland successfully met its 2015 renewable energy target of 20%, a 2020 target of 40% now looms ahead. Delegates were keen to develop plans for the future following the recent decision to end the Renewables Obligation scheme one year earlier than planned. The event, which was chaired by Carson McDowell partner Dawson McConkey, heard from Gary McGhee, Head of Planning and Environmental Law at the firm as well as representatives from academia, regulatory bodies, front line delivery and the environmental sector. Gary said: “Carson McDowell was delighted to sponsor this conference. Solar may indeed prove to be 'the next opportunity' but it faces a host of hurdles in terms of funding, planning and legal obstacles. This conference focussed on these challenges and how they can be addressed in the coming months and years. “Planning permissions for solar farms are increasingly being challenged in the courts through judicial reviews. My legal update covered these and specifically, case law on challenges to screening decisions and failures to assess grid connection.”