Green energy 'can create 1,300 new jobs'

Over 1,300 ’green’ jobs could be created by expanding the North’s renewable energy industry, a conference will be told tomorrow.

At the same time increasing renewable resources presents a huge opportunity to make a big reduction in fossil fuel dependence and save cash.

The Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) is holding its inaugural Northern Ireland Wind Workshop at the Culloden Hotel outside Belfast and more than 100 delegates are expected to hear from a diverse range of speakers representing the regulator and public and private bodies.

The gathering is focused on the opportunities for future development of the Northern Ireland wind industry and highlighting the important role of the forthcoming Northern Ireland Strategic Energy Framework in delivering a vibrant and prosperous wind industry.

Dr Michael Walsh, chief executive of IWEA, said: “The expansion of Northern Ireland renewable resources will present a huge opportunity to dramatically reduce Northern Ireland’s 99% energy dependence on imported fossil fuels, facilitate the growth of a highly competitive industry and create over 1,300 green jobs.

The forthcoming Northern Ireland Strategic Energy Framework is an extremely welcome initiative which we hope will provide the supporting policy infrastructure necessary to drive the development of Northern Ireland’s renewable resources.“

The association has recently completed an analysis of the impact of wind generation on the cost of production of electricity.

Based on actual production figures for the last week of July, IWEA compared the cost of fossil fuel generation on windy days with the same cost on less windy days with very similar demand.

It said after adjusting for demand variations it found the saving in fossil fuel costs varied between £46,000 and £63,000 per day for the North.

“This clearly demonstrates the real benefits that wind generation delivers in reducing the daily cost of generating electricity,” said Mr Walsh.

He added: “It also proves that Northern Ireland can reduce its dependence on imported fossil fuels. This has been achieved with very limited amounts of installed wind capacity; there are huge gains available for Northern Ireland if we can achieve the targets indicated in the Draft Strategic Energy Framework for Northern Ireland.”

Environment Minister Edwin Poots, a keynote speaker at the workshop, said: “I am firmly committed to supporting the wind industry and all other renewable energy technologies so that together we can meet our commitments to tackle climate change.”

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