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Irish wind industry policy paper pushing government to do more

Ireland enjoys constant winds, with almost all parts of the country having either excellent or very good wind resources. It could thus be one of the best spots in Europe for generating low-carbon power, delivering a competitive energy-based industrial sector” at the same time.

The Irish Wind Energy Association came up with this conclusion in its new policy paper, “Export Policy – A Renewables Development Policy Framework for Ireland,” which assessed the economic benefits of Ireland’s domestic energy export potential when it is optimized.

In its report, the association said Ireland’s wind power sector could pave the way for 30,000 jobs by 2020 if the government will make some industry reforms.

Currently, the association said, there is a realizable opportunity for Ireland to significantly develop its wind resource and provide electricity not just for the entire region but even to the rest of Europe.

“Delivering renewable energy in this way can lead to a major energy-based industrial sector that will rival electronics, pharmaceuticals and financial [sectors] in providing substantial and much needed jobs,” said the IWEA.

The report proposed that the Irish government amend its targets to reach 6 gigawatts of wind power for export to the United Kingdom, in addition to the 4 GW of wind energy for its domestic market.

IWEA said the combined output of these two could provide as much as 18,400 jobs by 2020.

It also suggested the creation of renewable energy divisions among state agencies IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and Forfás, saying they could attract wind turbine manufacturers if they work together.

“This cooperative approach could unlock an additional 9,000 to 12,000 jobs, bringing the true jobs total up to 30,400 by 2020,” the group added.

“Ireland has the potential and resources to not only meet our own renewables targets but to assist other European Union countries in meeting theirs. This could lead to significant job creation, research and development opportunities and greater investment,” said Kenneth Matthews, IWEA chief executive.

IWEA is urging the government to develop a joint Ireland-Britain government policy to allow Ireland to pull off at least 6 GW of wind energy for export by 2020.

Reportedly, Britain needs 18 GW of wind energy before 2020. If Ireland can achieve its 6-GW target, then Britain can attract and manage an investment of over 18 billion euros( $24.3 billion) into the economy.

Finally, IWEA is calling on the government to set 2030 European Union targets for wind and for marine energy.

“The opportunity is for Ireland to deliver a sustainable industry becoming a leader in the development and operation of renewable energy. This opportunity can only be capitalized upon if there is a plan, a framework and support to realize both,” said the industry group.

Over the coming decades, it is projected that Ireland has a potential to generate 20 GW of power from onshore wind and 50 GW from offshore wind from the eastern and southern coasts of the country.

The country aims to become 16 percent renewable energy dependent by 2020, with 40 percent of the country’s electricity demand to come from renewable source in 2020, according to Ireland’s National Renewable Energy Action Plan. – C. Dominguez

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