Mazhar Bari, CEO of Solar Print, has expressed concern at the lack of commitment in the Programme for Government to develop Ireland’s solar industry.
Speaking at the Engineers Ireland seminar, ‘Ireland’s future energy projects’, Bari said, “The Programme for Government references geothermal, wind and marine energy but fails to acknowledge the potential of solar energy to deliver investment and green jobs for Ireland.”
Bari believes there is a ‘blind spot’ within Government which is prohibiting Ireland’s potential to develop a vibrant solar industry that can compete on a global basis.
“Ireland, with a national Strategic Research Cluster (SRC) in Solar Energy Conversion run out of UCD, has already been focused on this technology for over three years and is as well placed as any nation to be one of the first countries to successfully commercialise the technology,” he said.
Bari suggested that by placing its stake in the ground today, Solar Print has an opportunity to be a global leader in this third-generation solar technology, creating exports, jobs, tax revenue and a foundation for a sustainable industry for the next 30 years. Figures over the next 10 years reveal that the industry could create 10,000 jobs, €1bn of exports and €140m of annual tax revenue.
Bari said a nascent third-generation solar industry and ecosystem has already developed alongside the SRC, employing more than 20 people, including PhD graduates from chemistry to physics, as well as nanomaterials.
Bari’s company employs 21 people and is growing. He said its patented Dye Sensitised Solar Cell technology (DSSC) is generating worldwide interest for its potential use in energy-harvesting systems.
“We think that we are the type of innovative company which represents Ireland’s future smart economy.
“As a nation, we need to concentrate our resources on those industries that, over the next 20 to 30 years, will deliver long-term sustainable returns. This requires long-term vision, as well as a certain element of educated risk taking. Third-generation solar energy technology has the potential to be one of these industries and the potential reward is immense.
Bari advocated the importance of finding more sustainable forms of energy as supplies of fossil fuels are finite. He believes dedicating just 1.8pc of the total land area of Ireland to solar technology could satisfy all the country’s energy needs.
Bari also said the use of just six strategically-selected areas on the Earth’s surface could produce 18 terawatts, enough to meet the energy needs of the of the world’s population.
“My hope is that the new Minister for Energy will recognise the potential of solar to deliver for Ireland and will work with the cluster of companies already here to examine how the full potential of the industry can be recognised,” he concluded.