Govt report vows commitment to R&D, green economy

22 Mar 2010

Creating sustainable jobs and growing exports through key areas including heavy investment in R&D and innovation, broadband infrastructure and a €1bn-plus green stimulus package were outlined in the Jobs and Growth 2010 report just published by the Government.

The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Coughlan, TD, said Ireland is “well positioned for growth as new opportunities present in our key export markets”.

“The reality is that competing on the basis of the quality and added value of our goods and services is the only long-term basis for creating successful companies and high-skilled employment,” she outlined in the foreword to the report.

Innovation and economic growth

The report said that the Government would continue to reinforce the core message from the Innovation Taskforce Report; that Ireland’s future economic growth can be driven by innovation across all sectors of Irish enterprise, adding that it is committed to using investment incentives and other measures to achieve an R&D target of 3pc of GDP.

Five years ago, less than one-tenth of multinational investments into Ireland were in R&D and innovation whereas by 2009 this had grown to almost 50pc.

“This Government’s commitment to continued investment in R&D and innovation has been clearly articulated and we have put in place the agencies and programmes required to ensure that Ireland achieves and sustains excellence in research, allied to the needs of industry. Total investment in R&D has trebled in the 10 years to 2008 and investment in Higher Education R&D has quadrupled during the same period,” the report said.

Green energy and infrastructure was a major focus: state-owned electric power transmission company EirGrid will invest €4bn in the national transmission grid under the Grid 25 Strategy from now until 2025 and has recently chosen new technology that promises to substantially cut the cost of upgrading Ireland’s electricity

EirGrid’s new technology

EirGrid has recently selected a new technology (HTLS) that will substantially cut the cost of upgrading the country’s electricity: this will enable the cost-effective implementation of 2,200km of upgrades to the national grid over the next 15 years under the Grid25 grid development strategy, which will be used at 220,000 volts and 110,000 volts.

The report also stated that the Government plans for the large scale deployment of electric vehicles has set a target of 10pc of all vehicles to be powered by electricity by 2020, meaning that there could be up to 250,000 electric cars on Irish roads within the next decade.

Provisions are already being made for this, says the Government, with the Budget 2010 giving VRT exemption for electric vehicles and VRT reliefs of up to €2,500 for plug-in hybrid vehicles, which were due to end on 31 December 2010, are being extended for a further two years until the end 2012. The Budget also indicated the possibility of financial support to offset initial battery costs for electric vehicles.

The huge potential of the green economy is recognised, states the report, with the Revised Estimates Volume for 2010 committed to spending more than €1 billion on programmes that support and stimulate its growth through areas including renewable energy, energy efficiency, green public procurement, water services, grid infrastructure, green R&D, green skills and education, and development agencies support for clean tech companies.

With this in mind, the framework policies to drive a sustainable economy include: a future national action plan on green public procurement, the carbon tax, a budget of €23 million provided for in 2010 revised estimates volume for sustainable transport, Grid25 and National Energy Efficiency Action Plan, 2009-2020.

By Marie Boran

Photo: Green energy was a major focus of the Jobs and Growth 2010 report

For more information on green technology, visit the The Green Economy – A Business & Leadership Briefing website.