IWEA welcomes Govt’s renewable energy strategy

29 May 2012

Offshore wind turbines

The Irish Wind Energy Association has reacted favourably to the Department of Energy’s Renewable Energy Strategy. It claims that Ireland’s wind-exporting drive could attract between €1.7m and €2.7m worth of investment for each megawatt of power that is exported, if the intergovernmental energy agreement with the UK is reached.

Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte, TD, yesterday revealed the details of the strategy, which sets out Ireland’s renewable energy plans between now and 2020.

Placing the development of renewables at the core of the Government’s energy policy, the strategy sets out five strategic goals so Ireland can capitalise on its natural assets and meet its 2020 renewable targets.

Back in December, the EU published its Energy 2050 road map in which it set out actions for progressing a decarbonised energy sector.

As for Ireland, the country is legally obliged to have at least 16pc of all energy consumed in the state from renewables by 2020. This includes a sub-target of 10pc in the transport sector.

The five strategic goals include increasing onshore and offshore windfarm developments, as well as building a sustainable bioenergy sector. Other focal points include fostering R&D in renewables such as wave and tidal, growing sustainable transport and building out smart energy networks.

Intergovernmental agreement with UK

Rabbitte also announced yesterday he will be meeting with UK Energy Minister Charles Hendry next month to carry out negotiations on an intergovernmental agreement.

He said such an energy agreement with the UK would mean that those involved in the generation of both onshore and offshore renewable energy in Ireland would have an additional market to serve.

Rabbitte spoke about how Ireland has the scope to export wind energy on a scale that matches the total electricity consumption of the country.

Investor confidence

The IWEA said today that, with this agreement with the UK, Ireland has the potential to export six to seven gigawatts (GW) of electricity by 2025.

It said that such a wind exporting drive could attract between €1.7 and €2.7m worth of investment for each megawatt of power exported.

The IWEA also claimed the agreement could create clear opportunities for direct investment in industry, employment and the local economy, as well as indirect benefits to local supply chains.

Kenneth Matthews, CEO of the Irish Wind Energy Association, said the intergovernmental agreement presents significant development opportunities for the wind-energy sector.

“It represents a solid government commitment on this matter and it presents even further confidence for investors,” he said.

Clean-tech jobs

As for jobs in Ireland’s clean-tech sector, the strategy pointed to the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN), which said there were 19,000 people employed directly in Ireland in 2010 in key sub sectors of the green economy. It said this figure excluded agri-food production.

The strategy pointed to the job-creation potential in the renewables area.

“A wide variety of both short- and long-term employment opportunities are expected, ranging from jobs in construction and maintenance to international supply chain openings and manufacturing and testing of niche next-generation renewable energy equipment,” said Matthews.

He also spoke about how the strategy recognises the need for a co-ordinated approach by stakeholders in the renewable energy sector for Ireland to achieve its goals.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic