Offshore wind farms off the east coast of Ireland can create up to 50,000 jobs in the next 15 years, according to the National Offshore Wind Association of Ireland.
The finding was delivered by Brian Britton, General Secretary of the association at an Energy Ireland seminar on offshore wind in Belfast today.
Nearly €60bn will be invested to produce 20 GW of offshore wind energy generation planned for waters in the Irish Sea.
Mr Britton said: "With all this development in the Irish seas, it is logical that we can attract supply chain activity to our island. This is a growing industry and meeting the ambitious targets that are being set means new investment in supply chain by large multinational companies. However, we will be competing for these jobs with Liverpool and Wales and Glasgow and ports the length of the Irish Sea. Ireland, north and south, needs to show that we are open for business."
Mr Britton said the Port of Belfast and Harland and Wolff have had notable successes in establishing Belfast as a hub for the development of offshore wind.
He said: "Harland and Wolff has been the base for the deployment of turbines for SSE’s Robin Rigg project. Port of Belfast recently successfully attracted wind energy giant Dong to open a new manufacturing facility creating 300 green jobs. In addition to these, small engineering companies, marine companies, service industries are all beginning to win contracts in this sector."
In addition to the supply chain opportunity which exists, Mr. Britton identified the potential for Irish energy to be exported to the EU.
He said: "Ireland is a model of what the European energy market will look like in 20 years, one single market, where offshore wind energy created off the coast of Antrim will power homes in Berlin. We have to look beyond our shores to the opportunity that exists.
"The Energy Secretary in Westminister, Charles Hendry, has already indicated that he believes our future energy policy will be based on an All Islands Approach. In recent policy statements, the Minister has indicated that energy from all parts of the land and seas of Ireland will play a role in meeting the UK’s climate change targets."
"Ireland will have an energy surplus of over twice its own national requirements. We should be driving this in the same way we did with the formation of the Common Agriculture Policy."