35,000 jobs could be generated by developing Ireland’s wind energy sector

As many as 35,000 jobs could be generated by developing Ireland’s wind energy sector further, according to a new report from Trinity College Dublin and the Economic Social Research Institute.

The study suggests that Ireland would need to meet and exceed its current 2020 targets to double the amount of wind energy it produces to create such a high number of positions.

The report, entitled ‘An Enterprising Wind; An Economic Analysis Of The Job Creation Potential Of The Wind Sector In Ireland’, was jointly commissioned by Siemens and the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA). It suggests that an overall private sector investment of between €7 billion and €29 billion would be required, depending on the level of ambition pursued.

Among the possible jobs that could be created are roles in construction, engineering, manufacturing, and the IT sector.

According to the study, if Ireland were to meet its current 2020 targets and install 400MW of wind energy, 8,355 new positions would be created, more than double the number of jobs that currently exist in the sector.

The report goes on to suggest that if Ireland was to build on the existing target and add an additional 4000MW of onshore and offshore wind energy capacity for export, that over 17,000 jobs could be created.

In the most ambitious scenario outlined, a decision to develop 12GW of installed wind capacity,of which 4GW would be for export, would result in 35,275 new jobs coming onstream.

“This independent study highlights the considerable potential the wind energy sector has to drive economic growth in Ireland and, most critically, creating local jobs in local communities,” said Kenneth Matthews, chief executive of the IWEA.

There are a number of other benefits associated with wind power. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) recently announced that Ireland had saved €1 billion in fuel costs in imported energy costs, cut greenhouse gas emissions and resulted in lower fuel bills for consumers.

A plan to export energy generated in Ireland to Britain from wind energy farms however, has proven controversial. Currently two companies, Mainstream Renewable Power and Element Power, are in the process of developing a large-scale wind energy project in the midlands, which is anticipated will provide 5,000MWs of wind to the UK market and will involve the building of 2,000 turbines.

One of those companies, Mainstream, today announced it has selected Siemens Wind as the preferred supplier of wind turbines and has appointed Marubeni and Technip Offshore Wind Limited as the preferred supplier of balance of plant EPCI services for its 450MW Neart na Gaoithe offshore wind farm to be located off the coast of Fife in Scotland.

Having received onshore planning consent in June 2013, the proposed wind farm is expected to receive a determination on its offshore consent application soon and start preliminary construction works later this year. It is expected to begin generating renewable electricity from 2017 and when fully operational will have the capacity to deliver 3.7 per cent of Scotland’s electricity demand.