Ireland has the potential to produce renewable energy far in excess of what the country requires to power itself.
Speaking at the 16th annual Energy Ireland conference, Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte told the 250 delegates that Ireland’s renewable energy potential was a genuine economic opportunity.
“Ireland’s renewable energy potential greatly exceeds our domestic needs. Our rich onshore and offshore wind resources together with our untapped ocean energy resources represent a real economic opportunity for this country in the medium term. In order to make it happen we must set about immediately to create conditions for this development. In the middle of next month I will be meeting my counterpoint in London to discuss this issue,” he said.
Renewable energy is one of the few areas of the economy where Ireland is performing. The creation of a single market for electricity on the whole island is a stepping stone to Ireland taking part in a fully integrated European market for energy.
Mr Rabbitte said it was vital the state maintained control of the gas interconnectors to secure reliable gas supplies, critical for the Irish economy
Conference director Owen McQuade said the energy sector could make a significant contribution to the Irish economy.
“Although the economic outlook is far from positive, energy is one sector that has the potential to make a significant contribution to economic recovery, particularly in relation to the development of renewables. We look forward to exploring these, and other issues, throughout the course of Energy Ireland and to welcoming the leaders from across the industry for two days of informed discussion and debate,” he said.
Speakers were joined on the panel by local energy sector leaders including ESB chief executive Pat O’Doherty, Dave Kirwan of Bord Gáis Energy and Brian Motherway, recently appointed head of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, as well as respected economist and commentator Professor John FitzGerald fromSRI. Energy regulators, Garrett Blaney of the Commission for Energy Regulation, and Shane Lynch, of the Utility Regulator in Northern Ireland, addressed the conference.
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