Energy Cork seeks to secure investment

Cork supplies 25% of Ireland’s energy needs but uses 13%, writes Kieran Lettice

THERE was an expectant mood at the launch by Minister Pat Rabbitte TD of Energy Cork at the Maryborough Hotel and Spa in Cork. Over 270 energy professionals and interested parties attended the event on December 7 to mark the formal launch of the new industry cluster for the energy sector in Cork.

The conference heard from a range of speakers representing organisations active in the energy sector in Cork.

While Energy Cork is about all aspects of the energy industry — demand management, transport, building standards, clean-tech — one statistic that really caught the attention of people was about Cork’s role in supplying energy. Cork supplies approximately 25% of Ireland’s energy requirements while using just 13%.

Considering that the rest of Ireland supplies 21% of the country’s energy requirements, with the remaining 54% being imported, this puts the region in a very important position in terms of national security of supply.

Energy Cork is an industry-driven energy cluster pursuing co-ordinated actions to strengthen enterprise and job creation within the energy sector in the Cork region. The initiative is supported by the Cork Area Strategic Plan partners, Cork City Council and Cork County Council, through their economic development funds which see 1% of the commercial rates of both councils dedicated to enterprise support and job creation.

The concept of an industry cluster to help drive economic development and job creation in the energy sector was initially conceived by Cork Chamber in 2010 with a view to building on the unique opportunities for the region to secure competitive advantage in the sector. A meeting of interested parties took place in April 2011 to begin moves to create what has now become Energy Cork.

Steering group members are drawn from a wide range of industries and government agencies, the councils, Cork Chamber and from UCC and CIT. Professor Patrick Fitzpatrick, head of the College of Science, Engineering and Food Science at UCC were elected as chair of the group.

The strong feeling was that a significant cluster of resources exists in the Cork region. The commercial activities of organisations such as Bord Gáis, ESB, Phillips 66, Kinsale Energy along with a myriad of SMEs, spinout companies and consultants operating in Ireland and overseas is a significant source of employment and revenue in the region.

Allied to this activity, is the work of research groups and institutions such as the International Energy Research Centre based in the Tyndall National Institute, the Nimbus Centre in CIT, the Irish Maritime and Energy Resource Cluster and Beaufort Research at UCC.

Key actions by Energy Cork are:

l The promotion of Cork as a location for foreign direct investment in areas such as high-voltage undersea cable manufacturing.

l Supporting the drive to develop natural gas vehicle refuelling stations

l Encouraging the continued development of the vibrant oil and gas sector in Cork.

l Ensuring Cork is more energy efficient and develop a target for the region to be carbon neutral by 2050.

The launch of Energy Cork came just a few days after the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD, published Delivering our Green Potential, the Government’s Policy Statement on Growth and Employment in the green economy as part of the Action Plan for Jobs 2012. The document outlines the scale of the green economy globally. It is worth more than $5 trillion, employs more than 30 million people, and is projected to grow at 3.7% per year over the coming years. It predicts that up to 10,000 extra Irish jobs could be created by 2015.

Further info and membership details can be found on www.energycork.ie

* Kieran Lettice is project manager at Energy Cork

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