Eamon Ryan’s Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources has been given €517 million in the Budget for 2010 to drive a green economy stimulus plan and increase broadband investment. So far 15,000 jobs have been created in the green economy.
The plan involves clever measures aimed at modernising homes, helping businesses buy energy-efficient equipment, increasing fibre-optic infrastructure, green data centres, a green IFSC and an International Content Services Centre.
Irish economic stimulus
Minister Ryan TD said the allocation, an increase of €5 million on last year, reflects the fact the Government has decided that sustainable energy and building our broadband infrastructure represents the best kind of stimulus for the Irish economy.
The Green Enterprise Group identified 80,000 jobs and the Knowledge Society Taskforce identified 30,000 jobs as the prize over the next decade if we implement the Government’s strategy of a low-carbon, high-tech economy.
The department will extend its national insulation programme with an additional €50 million for retrofitting programmes. The overall €90-million allocation for next year includes a €36-million ring fenced for low-income housing. The national insulation programme totals €130 million when coupled with the Department of Environment’s €40 million and will create 5,000 jobs in the sector next year. This year, more than 5,600 contractors have already registered for insulation work and BER assessment on homes throughout Ireland.
Some €12.9 million will be spent on energy research. This includes the world-class facility on ocean energy off the Mayo coast and a number of other initiatives around the country.
Government will support the deployment of electric vehicles onto Irish roads with a VRT exemption for the next three years. There will also be a grant for half the costs of the batteries for the first 6,000 cars on Irish roads.
The existing tax incentive scheme for businesses purchasing energy-efficient equipment will be extended into three new categories. This will lower energy costs for industry, give them a cash flow boost and help them to make the right purchasing decisions in the coming year.
More than €45 million will be spent next year on the modernisation of our telecommunications infrastructure. This includes the National Broadband Scheme to bring broadband coverage to certain designated target areas in rural Ireland where broadband coverage was deemed to be insufficient. This scheme is supporting 250 jobs directly. High-speed broadband will be delivered to 78 secondary schools.
Work will be advanced on positioning Ireland as a test bed for the next generation of energy-efficient fibre optics networks.
The Sound and Vision fund for independent broadcasters will be increased to €14.6 million, allowing the creative arts the support they require to tell Irish stories to Irish viewers.
In addition to the funding outlined, Ryan will spearhead work on green data centres, a green IFSC and an International Content Services Centre.
“This Government has insisted that we have the economic strategy to bring us into recovery,” Ryan said.
“The investment and the jobs of tomorrow will be low-carbon and high-tech.
“The increase in my department’s allocation will go directly into providing thousands of jobs for Irish people. We will make their homes warmer and provide employment for the construction sector as we insulate over 1 million homes and every public building in Ireland.
“Bringing broadband to rural areas and our schools will modernise both our education system and our telecommunications infrastructure.
“Over 15,000 jobs have already been created in the green economy. Every euro this department spends will be focused on jobs for our people in the growing areas of the green and digital economies. This is a central part of our stimulus.
“We can fight climate change as we secure our economic future,” Ryan said.
By John Kennedy
Photo: Eamon Ryan, Minister of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.
For an extensive interview with Minister Eamon Ryan, and other features and interviews, see the Irish Director Green Economy Report