Finance and investment in the renewable energy sector, as well as planning and project development and insurance, are some of the topics up for discussion at an all-island renewable energy conference that’s taking place in Belfast today.
Insurance group Lloyd’s is hosting the event at Titanic Belfast, along with Invest Northern Ireland and the Green International Financial Services Centre (Green IFSC).
More than 200 players in the renewable energy sector from Ireland and the UK are meeting to discuss topics such as financing renewable energy projects, plus the role that insurers play in delivering such projects.
Opening the event, Eamonn Egan, Lloyd’s country manager for Ireland, spoke about Ireland’s capacity to generate far more wind energy than it needs for domestic consumption.
Conversely, he said the UK is not expected to meet its target of getting 30pc of all electricity from renewable sources by 2020 without buying "substantial amounts" of wind energy from Ireland.
Just this past January, Ireland’s Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte, TD, signed a memorandum of understanding with Ed Davey, the UK’s Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, to progress plans for an inter-governmental agreement that would allow Ireland to export excess wind energy to the UK.
"A number of ambitious projects are already in progress exploring these export prospects and insurance will inevitably have a key role to play in bringing these developments to fruition," said Egan this morning.
Stephen Nolan, the executive co-ordinator of the Green IFSC, spoke about Ireland’s proposition when it comes to renewables. He said the Green IFSC has targeted green funds as a core area to grow assets under management and create jobs in Ireland.
Nolan said the Green IFSC’s goal is to increase Ireland-based assets serviced or managed in ‘green’ funds from US$20bn today to US$200bn by 2017.
Other speakers at today’s conference included Mark Giulianotti, who is director at the Green Investment Bank in the UK, and former Bord Gáis chief executive John Mullins. Now managing partner at the investment advisory firm Augmentis Ireland, Mullins is in the process of setting up a solar investment company called Amarenco.
The original Lloyd’s Titanic loss book is also on display at today’s conference.
Lloyd’s insured the Titanic 101 years ago and when the news was conveyed to London that it sunk, it was recorded in the book. This is only the second time in history that book has been in Belfast.