Speaking ahead of his organisation’s annual conference in Galway today, Irish Wind Energy Association chief executive Kenneth Matthews said the next two years could see “significant growth” in the sector, with new investment up to 2020 totalling as much as €4.7bn.
“The economic benefits of this growth will be reaped at a national level, through taxation and the avoidance of significant financial penalties, and at local levels throughout the country, by way of direct and indirect employment and through ongoing commercial rates,” he said.
The new investment will come via wind energy companies signing contracts with Eirgrid and the ESB to connect to the national grid — as part of the ‘Gate 3’ connection programme.
According to the IWEA, deposits already paid by firms for connection purposes total around €27m for 119 projects. These will have a total generation capacity of 2,746mW and will more than double the amount of electricity generated by wind in Ireland.
The IWEA predicts that if these projects go ahead, Ireland will meet its 2020 energy targets — when renewable sources must account for 16% of total energy consumption and 40% of the country’s electricity must come from renewable sources.
If we fail to meet those targets, there will be significant financial penalties of at least €350m per year until we come into line.
Today’s conference will hear from Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte, who will highlight an IWEA member study showing that 60% are planning to boost their jobs numbers next year and that over 3,400 people are employed in the sector.
Job numbers in the area are expected to grow substantially as Ireland moves towards meeting its 2020 energy targets