Green and digital economies are pivotal to Ireland’s future

29 Apr 2010

The creation of 300 jobs via EirGrid’s new transmission network indicates how digital networks and future green industries are inextricably linked, says Communications Minister Eamon Ryan TD.

Will the green economy become a mainstream phenomenon?

Much of the infrastructure is in place. Overall, it will take 10 to 20 years. It will start off like the first mobile phones, the big, clunky things you hauled around. Five years later, 15pc of people had one and then, 10 years later, everyone had one. Maybe the first five years will be ‘wow, look at that different car’, then it will be mainstream. It will also happen in the home; it’s an inevitable development.

Do you agree that many of today’s out-of-work builders, plumbers and electricians should achieve gainful employment in the green economy?

In terms of green jobs and future industries, you might as well be part of that rather than struggling against it. The IDA, in fairness, has got it and projects have started to happen. I met the green IFSC people last week and I was very encouraged.

My job is to keep the head down and keep delivering. In terms of job conversion, I agree, it isn’t just the basket weavers, this is everyday stuff for everyday people and the more we do it the better.

How close are we to exploiting Ireland’s opportunity to supply Europe not just with wind but also with wave energy?

Wind is the easiest to get and the most competitive, but we are also building an offshore energy grid west of Belmullet. That’s a real development.

We’ve given a lot of grant support to ocean energy – OpenHydro, for example, got a significant prototype development grant. We recognise there’s real potential. It will take a while to develop, it is not yet commercial technology but we are committed to testing it. Significant growth potential could come out of it.

How vital will the Exemplar Network be for job creation?

It pulls those companies in here and the first 80 jobs when they test out the technology, but the real prospect is when you put it into a real, live working environment. It just gives us a competitive advantage. If you have a really important data centre or a large cloud computing application where are you going to put it except where you’ve got the fastest, most flexible network.

How intrinsically linked is the green economy with the digital economy?

The two go hand in hand. The future is digital and electric. You have to manage the system from running the smart grid down to smart metering in the home. Increasingly, we’re going to have to apply in the home what we have in the car and, indeed, integrate the car into the home. Store energy in your car battery at night but if you need it in the house you can connect it back.

By John Kennedy

Photo: Communications Minister Eamon Ryan TD


Minister Eamon Ryan TD will be speaking at The Green Economy – A Business & Leadership Briefing on 14 May 2010 at the Four Seasons Hotel, Dublin.

International speakers will include Will Day, chairman, Sustainable Development Commission in the UK, and special adviser to the UN Development Programme; Chris Tuppen, chief sustainability officer, BT Group; and Dick Budden, director, Carbon Disclosure Project (Ireland).

Go to the website for details and to secure your place at the event.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years