AN energy project could make Ireland energy independent within five years and see us exporting energy in a decade.
According to Spirit of Ireland, who are behind the project, the solution to the economic crisis may lie in harnessing Ireland’s huge wind energy potential.
The first phase of the project promises energy independence for Ireland within five years, with a €10 billion boost to the economy. The second phase will see energy exports of €3bn to €5bn per year in years six, seven and eight, or up to €50bn over the following 10 years.
Over the past six months, a team of top engineers, academics, architects, geologists, hydro-geologists and other experts have been working intensively on an energy proposal by Prof Igor Shvets of Trinity College.
The proposal is based on using natural coastal valleys to provide hydro storage reservoirs. Wind farms would then be used to pump sea water into these reservoirs. The water can then be passed through turbines generating massive amounts of power.
According to the group, a similar model has been adopted successfully in Japan and senior executives and engineers visiting from Japan confirmed the validity of this approach for Ireland.
As well as harnessing excess energy for export, Spirit of Ireland believes the project will create jobs and cut our carbon dioxide emissions.
According to the group, to achieve energy independence and save €15bn in fossil fuel imports over five years, will require two hydro storage reservoirs at a cost of €800m each.
Wind farms will then be connected to the reservoirs.
The group proposes to launch a public company in the form of a national energy co-operative in which the public could buy shares.
Spokesman for Spirit of Ireland Graham O’Donnell, an electrical engineer, said: "Our people, pension funds and Government can invest in and support this initiative. This has potential to be of huge economic benefit to our country."