A recently published survey of the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA), released at the autumn conference in Killarney, showed enormous growth opportunities in the wind energy industry in Ireland in the future. A total of 150 Irish energy companies participated in the survey, which resulted in the outcome that, by the end of the decade, 1100 new jobs could be created in this sector. This would increase the number of jobs in the wind energy sector to a total of 5500 jobs. The past three years have already shown the success of this energy sector, as 300 jobs were created on average per year.
The majority of people in this sector, about 3100, are employed at the headquarters of the energy companies. Another 1000 work in operational and engineering roles on wind farms and 300 people work in regional support offices in the whole country.
According to IWEA, another 2.5 billion Euro will be invested into the industry, in addition to the 4 billion Euro, which have already been invested.
Currently over two million households on the island of Ireland source their power from wind energy. The history of Irish wind energy dates back to 1992 when Ireland’s first commercial wind farm was established in Bellacorrick, county Mayo. Today the Republic of Ireland has 207 wind farms; the whole island has 241.
The expansion of jobs in the wind industry leads back to the plan of increasing the Irish wind capacity, by 1600 Megawatts (MV), by 2020. At the moment the Irish wind energy capacity is 3119 MV. With the capacity of currently 461MV, Cork can be seen as the “wind capital” of Ireland, followed by Kerry (315MW), Donegal (298MW), Tipperary (268MW) and Limerick (182MW).
As a clean, environmentally friendly energy source, wind energy gains more and more importance. IWEA Chairman Peter Harte declared: “Clean energy such as wind will also play a key role in reducing Ireland’s huge dependency on fossil fuel energy imports and in continuing to attract lucrative data centre developments to Ireland, along with their own significant employment opportunities”
He continued by describing it not only as “Ireland’s most competitive energy source”, but furthermore praised the economic benefits in terms of “employment, commercial rates and contributions to local communities.”
Despite the good news, the problem of skills shortage concerns more than a quarter of the companies, which is the reason why some companies also employ people from foreign countries.
written by Isabel Riedel