Ireland has the potential to become a significant exporter of renewable energy and create at least 10,000 jobs in the process, a government strategy claims.
Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte said Ireland had the potential to export the same amount of energy that it consumed.
It was a “jobs-rich area”, he said, and significant companies were in discussion with his department about harnessing renewable energy for exportation. His department yesterday launched its renewable energy strategy up until 2020.
“What we’re doing here is exploiting an indigenous resource. To assist security of supply in the domestic market, to develop an exports capacity and to contribute to environment improvement.
“If we were able to create a sub-supply sector in the Irish market, it would create significant employment.”
Under EU law, Ireland must ensure by 2020 that at least 16% of all energy consumed is from renewable sources.
The figure is currently 6%.
The Government plans to boost output in onshore and offshore wind power for domestic as well as export markets.
It also wants to boost the bioenergy sector, including in forestry and energy crops.
Another goal is to further develop “green growth” through ocean technologies and through Ireland’s wave and tidal resources.
The strategy predicts that up to 10,000 green jobs could be created by 2015.
An important step in developing renewable energy jobs will be the negotiations with Britain on an inter-governmental pact.
This could see companies involved in offshore renewable energy having access to an additional market there.
Mr Rabbitte is set to meet his British counterpart, Charles Hendry, on the pact next month. He said significant players were in discussion with his department about expanding their roles in renewable energy but that a lot would hinge on the talks with the UK.
Any such pact could allow Ireland put energy from its wind farms onto the inter-connector between the two countries and therefore on to Britain’s electricity grid.
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