Offshore wind energy could create 50,000 jobs in Ireland

Offshore wind power being developed along the east coast of Ireland could create up to 50,000 jobs over the next 15 years, according to Brian Britton, general secretary of the National Offshore Wind Association of Ireland (NOW Ireland).

Speaking at an Energy Ireland seminar in Belfast, Britton noted that wind farm projects totalling 20 GW of offshore wind turbines generation are planned for waters in the Irish Sea zone, representing a €60bn investment. He said ports along the island of Ireland can take a lead in servicing this development.

“With all this development in the Irish seas, it is logical that we can attract supply chain activity to our island,” he said. “This is a growing industry and meeting the ambitious targets that are being set means new investment in supply chain by large multinational companies.

“However, we will be competing for these jobs with Liverpool and Wales and Glasgow and ports the length of the Irish Sea. Ireland, north and south, needs to show that we are open for business”

Britton also spoke about the potential for Irish energy to be exported to the EU. “Ireland is unique in energy terms. We are already the only fully integrated trans-national energy market in Europe. Ireland is a model of what the European energy market will look like in 20 years, one single market, where offshore wind energy created off the coast of Antrim will power homes in Berlin.

“We have to look beyond our shores to the opportunity that exists. The Energy Secretary in Westminster, Charles Hendry, has already indicated that he believes our future energy policy will be based on an all islands approach. In recent policy statements, the Minister has indicated that energy from all parts of the land and seas of Ireland will play a role in meeting the UK’s climate change targets. We believe that with interconnection and market integration, Ireland can be the green energy generator for Europe.

“Ireland will have an energy surplus of over twice its own national requirements. We should be leading the charge to a new European energy system, because we have most to gain from it. We should be driving this in the same way we did with the formation of the Common Agriculture Policy. It is up to industry and Government across the island to work together to take advantage of this resource.”