Northern Ireland’s Environment Minister Alex Attwood officially opened the first wind turbine from wind energy company Simple Power in Randalstown, Co Antrim, today.
Set up by Paul Carson in 2010, Simple Power is working with Northern Irish farmers and landowners to develop around 200 medium-scale single wind turbines across Northern Ireland over the next four years. The aim is for these wind turbines to collectively generate enough electricity to power around 50,000 local homes.
In August, the company signed an agreement with the electricity retailer Power NI, which will purchase the electricity generated by the company’s turbines over the next 15 years.
Simple Power’s first wind turbine is situated on land owned by farmer Jim McCord from Randalstown, Co Antrim.
The company started exporting power from this and a second turbine on a neighbouring farm this week.
Speaking today, Attwood said renewable energy and technology is the "single biggest economic opportunity" for the island.
"Schemes like this turbine are an example of how we can use this island’s tremendous natural resources. They also demonstrate the significant potential for renewables to help aid economic recovery and to meet national and international obligations for renewable energy while protecting our environmental and cultural assets," he said.
Northern Ireland has a 40pc renewable energy target by 2020.
Attwood said applications for renewable energy have doubled over the last four to five years. He added that he was continuing to set "challenging targets" to speed up the planning process.
"It is crucial that we all work together to make the transition to a low-carbon economy here in the North. Developments such as this here today, together with legislation I wish to bring forward on climate change, are examples of positive steps in the right direction," said Attwood.