Renewable energy sector 'could create 30,000 jobs'

Thirty thousand jobs could be created in the renewable energy sector if the Government implements a series of radical reforms, experts have claimed.

The Irish Wind Energy Association has called for a revised target of four gigawatts (GW) of wind power for the home market, which could run three million homes, and six gigawatts for export by 2020.

Kenneth Matthews, chief executive of the IWEA, called for renewable energy divisions to be created in investment agencies IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and Forfas.

“Renewable energy exporting is a significant national opportunity that needs to be seized,” he said.

In a report on the sector published by the IWEA to coincide with its conference in Killarney the lobby group says Ireland has a total resource of 20GW of onshore wind, 50GW of offshore on the east and south coasts and 1,920GWs on the west coast.

One gigawatt should power 750,000 homes.

“Ireland has the potential and resources to not only meet our own renewables targets but to assist other EU countries in meeting theirs,” Mr Matthews said.

“This could lead to significant job creation, R&D opportunities and greater investment. However, Ireland must be ready to seize the opportunity and IWEA’s recommendations aim to help Government ensure the framework is correct to realise this potential.”

The IWEA said the sector could rival Ireland’s electronics, pharmaceuticals and financial sectors and the first target should be for 18,000 jobs over the next eight years.

They claim turbine manufacturers could also be attracted to Ireland.

Ireland passed a wind generation milestone in March with enough capacity on the grid to power up to 1.3 million homes and on June 15, Global Wind Day, enough electricity was being created by wind farms for 650,000 homes or 28% of demand.

Ireland’s renewable targets are 16% of all power by 2020 and 40% of electricity at the same time.

The IWEA called on the Government to develop a joint Irish-UK government wind energy policy, with Britain needing 18GW of wind energy before 2020.

The group claimed that if the targets are met then there could be investment of more than €18bn into the Irish economy.

Jimmy Deenihan, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, addressed the IWEA conference in Tralee.

“Ireland has come a long way in recent years and is working to realise its renewable energy potential,” he said.

“Creating an energy export-led country adds another layer of opportunity and this policy paper provides both industry and Government with a road map to achieving this.

“We cannot underestimate the benefits that wind energy could bring to local economies around Ireland.”

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