Energy, and in particular renewable energy, is a major indigenous growth opportunity for Ireland in coming years, says PJ Rudden, Group Energy & Environment director for RPS in Ireland, and one that is waiting to be grasped.
The outgoing president of Engineers Ireland, Rudden is project director for the Irish Scottish Links Energy Study (ISLES) on Offshore Renewables for the three governments off the coasts of Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland, and is also RPS project director to the EU Commission for the Management of the EU Green Capital City project across the 27 member states.
Rudden is critical of the lack of economic planning in recent years but says it is time to move on now and to look to the growth areas of the economy. "And there are parts of the economy that haven’t stopped growing," he insists. "What’s driving our recovery at the moment is manufacturing, mostly by FDI companies in pharmaceuticals, ICT and biomedical, but the other area of the economy which represents indigenous growth is energy – and in particular, renewable energy. That’s the area that’s our best growth opportunity at the moment and into the next couple of years."
He points to the ISLES (Irish-Scottish links on energy) project which, he says, demonstrates joined up thinking in the Irish and Northern Irish sea, between Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland. "If we join forces and if we join up the planning and regulatory systems as best we can, then we have quite an export opportunity to the UK towards the end of this decade, and it’s an opportunity that’s there to be grasped," says Rudden.
The announcement in September of an intended memorandum of understanding on renewable energy between Ireland and the UK was very significant, says Rudden. "Indeed, it was welcomed by a lot of onshore interests who want to develop projects in the midlands and use the same route to the UK, bearing in mind that such a project would add additional interconnection to what has already been created, giving even more flexibility."
“It’s an opportunity there waiting to be tapped," says Rudden. "We estimate under the ISLES project that we could export some 16GW of power to the UK. That’s four times what our country currently uses. It’s in the order of about a €20bn export opportunity which makes it very significant."
See the full video interview below:
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