Domestically generated renewable energy can be the next big "game-changer" for the Irish economy, creating "thousands of jobs" and saving the State more than €1bn per year from the importation of fossil fuels, it was claimed yesterday.
Noting the strides taken by industry and academia on finding long-term potential solutions for Ireland’s energy requirements, Glen Dimplex chief Sean O’Driscoll said the Government is behind and needs to “catch up”, adding that its current “green energy” proposals are not ambitious enough.
Mr O’Driscoll said debate on energy policy is needed, with energy generation overemphasised, and too little focus on efficiency. He called for “proper community engagement” on wind farms and “a coherent national energy policy”.
“We need a strong debate on the Government ‘white paper’ on energy,” he said. “There have been two ‘game-changers’ in the history of the State’s business sector. First was the development of the IFSC; second was the development of the world’s biggest aviation finance sector.
“The third could be the energy sector, which, for starters, could employ over 100,000 jobs if the refurbishment of our older housing stock was prioritised and this should be fast-tracked and would be worth over €2bn to our economy.”
Mr O’Driscoll said sustainable energy remains the big “white elephant” in the room, vis à vis job creation.
He pointed to Denmark, which will be fully disengaged from fossil fuel dependency for energy by 2050, and Germany, which will have rid itself of nuclear energy by 2020, as role models for Ireland.
“We have the technology solutions; we have the smartest grid in the world powered by IBM technology; we have the academic collaborations in place with UCD and we have the industry collaborations in place with Glen Dimplex, SSE Airtricity, Intel Ireland, ESB Networks, Eirgrid, and UCD,” Mr O’Driscoll said.
Also attending yesterday’s event was former Japanese prime minister Naoto Kan, who said Japan’s 2011 nuclear crisis changed his mind on the safety of nuclear power, and urged Ireland to embrace wind over nuclear as an energy alternative.
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