Ireland to push green energy sector

Ireland is in a strong position to play a central role in the global green energy boom, a government minister believes.

Speaking at a forum in Dublin, Eamon Ryan, Ireland’s Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, said climate change and rising oil prices meant that the way the country created and used energy had to be reformed.

A report from the United Nations Environment Programme says investors poured US$71 billion into clean energy technologies last year – an increase of 43% since 2005. Experts predict investments of US$85 billion for 2007.

“We need to locate a large part of that investment in Ireland,” Mr Ryan told the forum on Innovation and Employment in Energy, attended by key players in the Irish energy sector.

In Germany, the Green Party’s involvement in government has led to a “green energy boom” – and the Minister pointed out that Ireland has even greater natural resources than Germany in terms of wind and tidal energy.

“We should look at other European countries’ experience and seek to emulate and, ultimately, surpass them.

“We already have 12,000 people working in the energy sector in Ireland. I want to see this number doubled, trebled – even quadrupled.”

Ireland’s recent Energy White Paper and Programme for Government has set ambitious, but achievable, targets for the country’s energy sector, Mr Ryan says.

By 2020, it is planned to have made energy savings of 20% with one third of energy coming from renewable sources.

The Dublin forum was so successful that a larger Energy Open Day is now being planned for early next year.

The Minister added: “Twenty years ago, Ireland was not the global leader in IT and bio-pharmacy that it is today. Our aim is to encourage the country’s energy industry to create the jobs of tomorrow.”

Kath Grant

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