Wind energy could boost Ireland’s economy by €500m a year – report

Wind energy in Ireland good for security, economy jobs – and potentially the UK’s own targets, says new report

Owenreagh Wind Farm in Northern Ireland (Source: Flickr/Bart Busschots)

Owenreagh Wind Farm in Northern Ireland (Source: Flickr/Bart Busschots)

By Sophie Yeo

Ireland could boost its economy by almost €500 million per year by harnessing wind energy to reach its 2020 renewable energy goals.

This is the finding of a report, released yesterday by the Irish Wind Energy Association, which assesses the impacts of using wind energy to generate 40% of the island’s electricity by 2020.

Using wind energy to hit this target could generate €3.5 billion of direct investment into the Irish economy, support 22,510 new jobs, and save €700 million a year in fossil fuel imports – all while driving down the country’s emissions.

“Unlike our fossil fuel imports to which we are so heavily reliant on with no environmental benefit and at a huge cost to the state, the positive impact of Irish wind energy must continue to be appreciated at a national and local level by consumers, communities, businesses and the State in Ireland,” said Kenneth Matthews, head of the IWEA.

UK links

Irish wind could also provide a potential new source of renewable energy to Britain, says the report.

While construction of another 2,600MW will be required for Ireland to meet its own 2020 target, there are sufficient wind resources on the island as a whole to more than double this capacity, allowing it to export across the sea.

This could enable the UK to achieve its own target of 15% of total energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020 and lead to a more “cost effective delivery” of the EU’s 2020 climate goals.

The report, compiled by engineering consultants Poyry and economic modelling consultants Cambridge Econometrics, makes a strong case for Ireland to lean more towards renewable wind energy as a means to reduce its reliance on imported fossil fuels.

Ireland is the fourth most energy dependent state in the EU, importing 85% of its energy. The security of its gas supply is a particular headache for the country, as 93% comes from a single transit point in Scotland.

A failure to employ new wind capacity after this year could lead to oil and gas exports rising from €900m in 2013 to €1500m in 2030.

Matthews added: “To fully deliver on these benefits, it is now essential to maintain momentum and remain focused on achieving our 2020 renewable energy targets with a view to continuing to grow the sector beyond 2020 for the benefit of all our communities.”

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