WIND energy use is growing but the potential for thousands of jobs and €14 billion investment in the sector has still not been tapped, it was claimed.
Figures released yesterday from EirGrid – the state-owned electricity transmission operator – show that in recent months wind power has accounted for up to 40% of all energy on the system and wind energy connected to the power system has increased by more than 25% in the past year.
The figures also show the amount of wind energy connected to the national grid has reached 1,077 megawatts and wind farms in Ireland now produce enough energy to supply approximately 700,000 homes around the country.
Wind power dwarfs hydro and landfill gas generation in terms of energy provided. A new report by Deloitte, also published yesterday, shows huge potential for more jobs in the sector.
The Deloitte report, Jobs and Investment in Irish Wind Energy, states that construction of wind energy projects on the island of Ireland will involve approximately €14.75bn of investment, €5.1bn of which could be retained in the Irish economy.
That in turn can support in excess of 10,500 jobs through direct and indirect investment up to 2020.
The report was launched to mark Global Wind Energy Day and was commissioned by the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA).
The IWEA’s chief executive, Dr Michael Walsh, said new plans will be put in place to boost the sector, but warned of areas of concern, such as the likelihood that many projects will not be delivered if developers cannot be given guarantees that the grid will be delivered to their project on time.
Ireland has set itself a progressive target of delivering 40% of energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020.
However, Dr Walsh said: "While Ireland has established a number of initiatives to stimulate growth in the sector, grid availability, a stable financial framework and a shortage of experienced personnel and lack of awareness of opportunities in the sector are stunting the sector’s growth.
"All of these issues need to be tackled, by industry and policy makers, to ensure the sector can continue to flourish in order to meet our targets and assist the Government with its recovery plan."