Wind energy could create 30,000 jobs by 2020

IWEA policy paper calls on the Government to put in place the framework to allow the delivery of energy exports to create jobs and investment.

The national body representing the wind energy sector in Ireland, the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) today (4 October) launched a new policy paper “Export Policy – A Renewables Development Policy Framework for Ireland” at its autumn conference in Killarney.

The policy paper outlines specific areas of the Irish economy which would benefit economically if Ireland’s domestic energy export potential was realised. In order to realise this potential however, IWEA has outlined a series of recommendations which must be enacted to achieve Ireland’s renewable energy opportunities.

Speaking at the opening of IWEA’s conference ‘Ireland’s Renewables – Answers for Ireland, Answers for Europe’, CEO of IWEA, Kenneth Matthews stated “Renewable energy exporting is a significant national opportunity that needs to be seized. Ireland must create new export-led growth and our policy paper is the first of its kind to clearly outline the framework needed to realise this potential.

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

IWEA Recommends:
1. Government policy to facilitate the achievement of 6GW of energy for export. 4GW of wind energy produced for our domestic market and 6GW for export can deliver up to 18,400 jobs by 2020.

2. To fully unlock the jobs potential, renewable energy divisions need to be created in IDA, Enterprise Ireland and Forfás – if State agencies work in tandem with industry they could attract turbine manufacturers to Ireland, as well as supplying turbines to projects here. An Irish base could then be used as a launch-pad into the European onshore and sizeable UK offshore market. This cooperative approach could unlock an additional 9,000-12,000 jobs, bringing the true jobs total up to 30,400 by 2020.

3. Government must develop a joint Irish-UK government policy. The UK needs 18GW of wind energy before 2020 and a policy should facilitate the achievement of a least 6GW of wind energy for export from Ireland. If such enablers are achieved, Ireland can attract and manage an investment of more than €18bn into our economy.

4. The establishment of a Government-Industry Implementation Group to maximise the opportunities for Ireland from exporting renewable energy by bringing together the necessary private and public stakeholders, agencies and private capital, to determine the goals and then lead the implementation.

5. Government to set 2030 EU targets for wind and marine energy.

Giving the keynote address at IWEA’s Conference, Minister for Arts, heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan TD stated, “I am delighted to be part of this Conference today particularly when such a valuable policy paper is being launched. Ireland has come a long way in recent years and is working to realise its renewable energy potential. Creating an energy export-led country adds another layer of opportunity and this policy paper provides both industry and Government with a roadmap to achieving this. We cannot underestimate the benefits that wind energy could bring to local economies around Ireland.”

Stephen Wheeler, Managing Director of Airtricity and IWEA Chair stated, “All of these benefits are within Ireland’s reach but the approach for Ireland in terms of energy should be much more ambitious than what exists to date. The UK is now a net energy importer and over a fifth of the UK’s existing generating capacity will be coming off stream before 2020. Where energy needs meets ambition Ireland has the answers. The rest of Europe and in particular our closest neighbours the UK need renewable energy, Ireland, has the resources, the comparative advantage and the talent to deliver”