Solar 21: Ireland missing out on ‘hundreds of jobs’

Irish energy firm Solar 21 has accused the Government of dragging its heels on renewable energy policy and costing the country hundreds of jobs in the process.

The Dublin-based company yesterday announced the creation of 80 jobs in Hull, England.

The new roles will come on stream following Solar 21’s UK biomass plant signing a 10-year contract with feedstock supplier, E. Mercer & Probio-Energy.

Solar 21 chief executive Michael Bradley said that while he was pleased with the creation of the new jobs, he would have rathered they be based in Ireland rather than the UK.

“The creation of the 80 new jobs comes on the back of a 10 year contract we have just signed with E. Mercer,” said Mr Bradley.

“Prior to our agreement with the feedstock supplier the waste wood, which will now be used to fuel the biomass plant, was going into landfill or being exported.

“While we’re delighted with the development and progress we have made in the UK, we would love to be announcing the creation of 80 permanent jobs here in Ireland.

"Had the Irish Government been as progressive in the area of renewable energy as the UK government are, we would have created these, along with hundreds more, jobs here in Ireland.

“These jobs could and should have been created in Ireland.”

Solar 21 announced the 10-year contract agreement after raising more than €42m from Irish investors since March.

The company said the UK’s decision to leave the European Union has not had a negative impact on the pace of investment with the largest level of funds invested since August.

The company acquired the rights to the 22MW plant in Hull in 2015 and is currently more than two-thirds of the way through the fundraising process.

“To date our fundraising efforts have been even more successful than initially envisaged which is down to a number of factors — namely, the calibre of the key advisors we are working with on this project,” said Mr Bradley.

“The high standard of advisors has given both brokers and investors great comfort that this project will have a successful outcome for all involved.

“In addition, the builder involved, CF Struthers, has been in Hull for over 80 years. They are ASME certified and have built over 140 similar units for customers such as Shell, BP, Statoil, Exxon and Conoco Philips.”

Solar 21 had shareholder’s funds of €658,224 at the end of 2014 compared with €1.9m at the close of 2013.

Solar 21 currently has assets of more than €100m.

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