Ireland’s energy suppliers must show green leadership – minister

23 Sep 2011

The green building push: benefits of retrofitting sustainability-wise and financial-wise, for the long term, creating green jobs

Ireland’s Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte has appealed to energy suppliers to start demonstrating green leadership in the more efficient use of energy, leading the future green economy by best example and also helping to increase their competitiveness. He was speaking at the Retrofit Conference in Croke Park earlier today, where he also touched on the creation of more green collar jobs, with the push to help spark off new companies in this burgeoning sector via the Better Energy programme.

Attendees were also told that up to 1m buildings in Ireland would benefit from some form of energy-efficiency retrofit, which could lead to lifetime energy savings worth €16bn.

Today, Rabbitte gave the keynote at the conference, announcing that energy suppliers should start signing up to the Better Energy: The National Upgrade programme. He also focused on creating new green jobs, by helping new indigenous start-ups that have green-tech services to offer.

Rabbitte focused on the idea of financing more comprehensive energy-efficiency measures to help consumers save money and make their homes and businesses more energy efficient.

According to the SEAI, there are about 1m buildings in Ireland that would benefit from some form of energy-efficiency retrofit which could lead to lifetime energy savings worth €16bn, setting aside the additional health and well-being benefit.

To date, efficiency upgrades have been completed in more than 33,000 homes this year and more than 96,000 homes since the programme began in 2009. In total, the estimated energy savings achieved are 529 gigawatt hours or just more than €33m.

Rabbitte spoke about the remaining green-tech obstacles, which can create barriers to realising the full technical and economic potential for energy efficiency for the moment. These barriers include a lack of knowledge of the benefits of energy-efficiency measures; a lack of access to capital and high costs of capital.

He said one of the ways this is being addressed is by energy suppliers signing up to voluntary agreements as part of Better Energy: The National Upgrade programme, to deliver competitive energy savings upgrades to homes across the country.

Energy suppliers – green leadership

“Energy suppliers can and should demonstrate a leadership role in more efficient use of energy. By doing so, they can also achieve significant savings on their energy costs, enhancing their competitiveness and that of the economy as a whole,” said Rabbitte.

New green tech jobs

“By working in partnership with the energy suppliers, I hope that we will be able to build scale and encourage innovative solutions. Better Energy will allow for innovation and creativity in the green-tech sector, providing an opportunity for indigenous companies to bring their services to market.”

The Department of Energy has convened a project team to undertake preliminary analysis of what a pay-as-you-save (PAYS) model could look like with a view to submitting an initial report to Rabbitte in October.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic