Ocean energy ‘could deliver 70,000 jobs to economy’

FULL exploitation of Ireland’s ocean energy has the potential to create 70,000 jobs and add up to €120 billion to the wealth of the economy, according to Bord Gáis Éireann CEO John Mullins.

Mr Mullins warned yesterday there was concern not enough investment and planning is being put into making that potential a reality.

As Ireland moves towards building “a more sustainable economic model, we must look at our natural resources, including the potential of wave and tidal energy,” the BGE chief executive said.

Energy infrastructure in Ireland over the next 10-20 years must focus on developing and facilitating energy security of supply.

The future has to be more than “just accessing the cheapest sources of energy in the short term,” he said.

To secure our economic future he stressed the need for us to be “de-coupled from the international price of oil” which been a major stumbling to economic development.

Now is the time to invest to make that happen ahead of the shock that will be caused when oil output reaches its peak.

“And as CEO of Bord Gáis I say we cannot be over reliant on gas, we must look at our country’s energy resources as a whole.”

Ocean energy has the potential to become a strong export industry for Ireland and we have to respond to that challenge, he said.

He called on Government “to sanction a long-awaited study on the economics of export needs. “A new Government must learn the lessons of previous years when our economic development was blinded by property.

“Ireland has some of the best wind and wave resources on the planet and our technology in this area is world-class. We cannot waste this intellectual capital, it must be nurtured and invested in now.”

Progress has been made and Mullins identified projects such as the OpenHydro and Wavebob developments that were getting investment from energy companies, such as BGE.

“I am calling on Government to set up a ‘one-stop’ shop to facilitate the development of this industry in Ireland, coordinated by the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government. We need a strong proactive policy and direct investment to ensure that our country maintains and develops our expertise in Ocean Energy, bringing jobs, investment and long-term security of energy supply to our island,” he said.

Mullins was speaking at the Ocean Energy Industry Forum 2011, hosted by the Marine Renewables Industry Association and sponsored by Bord Gáis Energy.

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