The Irish-born businessman behind a €10m green energy project says Ireland is at the start of a sustainable energy “gold rush” that could help revive coastal communities.
Tech and telecoms millionaire Pearse Flynn made his comments after unveiling his new Green Rebel Marine venture to service the future needs of offshore wind farms, with an estimated €5bn of projects in planning.
His comments came as shipping company, Irish Mainport Holdings, also announced its entry into the offshore wind sector.
The Cork-based firm has invested in a 50-metre survey and research ship, the Mainport Geo, it has bought a share of Wicklow-based offshore services company, Alpha Marine, and it has bought all the marine assets of SO.PRO.MAR which was the leading Italian company in providing marine services to the Mediterranean scientific research market.
Mr Flynn, 57, who was raised in the east Cork fishing village of Ballycotton and who owns and heads up UK debt solution company Creditfix, has acquired Crosshaven Boatyard in Cork for his new company base and has ordered two new multi-million hi-tech survey vessels — one, the, named after his mother, the other, , named after his grandson.
He said reports show the wind farm servicing sector has the potential to sustain between 12,000 and 15,000 jobs here over the coming years.
He said his firm aims to create 80 jobs within two years and develop a centre of excellence at its Crosshaven HQ.
"Coastal towns are changing. It’s hard to find a fisherman under 40 years of age,” he said.
“Investors are looking to deploy billions in capital off our coast, with planning for wind farm projects from Dundalk, right down the east coast and along the southern and western coasts.
“Apart from allowing Ireland to become a net exporter of energy, they will require a supply chain to support them.
“Construction of these wind farms, 60 to 70-miles offshore, each turbine up to 240-metres high, is only the start.
“They have to be operated and maintained for the next 30 or 40 years. These are the jobs that will be sustainable.
“We are an early mover in this area. We don’t want to be known for just providing the boats. We will also provide the surveying skills, the repairs, the maintenance, the servicing.
“Instead of buying in that service, we will be an Irish company delivering that service. And I see us developing bases in coastal communities around the coast.
“I’m really excited about the potential for this. I am energised by the whole thing. This will be a gold rush.”
Mainport’s chief executive, Dave Ronayne, with €5bn investment planned in offshore wind farms over the coming years by operators such as Innogy, Parkwind, ESB, Statkraft, Fred Olsen and SSE, says the surveying and services sector will grow.
“We are very happy to join with Alpha Marine who are ideally located and who have a great track record on providing services to the offshore wind industry over the last decade. Our combined resources will allow us to provide a full marine and technical solution to all marine requirements,” he said.
Mr Flynn, who is now mostly Glasgow-based, made headlines around the world in 2000, when, at the height of the dotcom boom, he sold Newbridge Networks to Alcatel for almost €8bn.
He went on to set up Damovo, a systems integrator; then rescued call-centre firm Contact4 before setting up Creditfix, one of Britain’s largest personal insolvency advisers.
He has held top positions in several companies, turning over billions a year, including Wang and Compaq, and has owned shares in Scottish football clubs, including Celtic.
Since 2018, he has ploughed millions of his own personal fortune back into his native village to help it realise its full tourism potential.
In Ireland, Mainport operates three tugs in the Shannon estuary, it provides a dedicated supply vessel at the Kinsale Natural Gas Field, as well as ship agency and stevedoring operations in Cork and Limerick.
Internationally, Mainport operates seismic support ships in worldwide trading, and has significant interests in fast crew boats and anchor handler ship in Malaysia and Australia.