Conference on sustainable energy looks at job opportunities for Ireland

1 Nov 2012

Patricia King, vice-president, SIPTU; Brian Motherway, chief executive, Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland; and Ireland's Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte, TD, at Croke Park in Dublin today

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and SIPTU hosted a conference on sustainable energy in Dublin today to explore how Ireland can look to jobs opportunities in areas such as building retrofitting and new technologies.

Around 200 business leaders and Irish employers attended the conference at Croke Park today to hear about the jobs potential associated with sustainable energy.

With Ireland having set a target to meet its 20pc renewable and energy efficiency targets by 2020, the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte, TD, spoke about how the construction sector needs to be upskilled in order to evolve with the expanding sustainable energy sector.

“We should recognise that there is a significant proportion of construction workers who, with a little investment in re-training, could become the foundation for a customer-focused, highly motivated, quality driven workforce in sustainable and energy-efficient technology and deployment,” he said.

Rabbitte touched on the Build Up Skills Ireland (BUSI) initiative that focuses on upskilling the construction sector around achieving energy efficiencies when retrofitting buildings. As part of Ireland’s energy-efficiency targets, more than 1m buildings across the country have to be retrofitted by 2020.

Green Fund

In addition, Rabbitte spoke about how his department has been working on a proposal to establish a Green Fund. The idea of such a fund, he said, would be to “put in place a mechanism to allow competitive proposals for energy-efficiency projects to be financed”.

Rabbitte said the real objective is to create the environment to attract investors to create a far bigger fund, one he said would be big enough to carry out the “multi-billion euro worth of economic activity that we know is out there”.

SEAI’s chief executive Dr Brian Motherway spoke about how sustainable energy is relevant to all types of jobs, be it about reducing costs or looking at new technologies.

“Businesses are now realising that they need to think about energy and prepare for the future by cutting energy use and enhancing competitiveness,” he said.

SIPTU’s general president Jack O’Connor spoke about how Ireland’s energy sector offers the potential for job creation and the retention of jobs via the national retrofitting programme for homes and businesses and as a result of new renewable energy technologies.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic