At a recent meeting of Irish and international ocean energy experts, John Mullins, chief executive of Bord Gais, spoke of his concern that not enough investment and planning is being put into developing Ireland’s ocean energy resources, an industry which could create up to 70,000 jobs and deliver a cumulative benefit of €120 billion to the Irish economy.
John Mullins points out that as Ireland searches for a more sustainable economic model, we must look at our natural resources, including the potential of wave and tidal energy. He welcomes the publication last November of the draft Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan but says it needs to spell out clearly what Ireland is going to do and how, to develop offshore renewable energy with specific time-bound actions.
“Energy infrastructure in Ireland over the next 10-20 years has to be about developing and facilitating national energy security of supply and not just accessing the cheapest sources of energy in the short term. Ireland needs to be decoupled from the international price of oil or else many aspects of our economy will be seriously impacted by rising energy costs across electricity, heating and transport. We must invest now for this scenario and not when the peak oil shock comes,” he comments.
According to John Mullins, ocean energy has the potential to become a strong export industry for Ireland. “A new Government must learn the lessons of previous years when our economic development was blinded by property. Ireland has some of the best wind and wave resources on the planet and our technology in this area is world-class. We cannot waste this intellectual capital, it must be nurtured and invested in now,” he adds.
Although projects such as the OpenHydro and Wavebob developments were being invested in by energy companies, as a whole, Ireland is currently sending a signal of having little ambition in the ocean energy industry. “I am calling on Government to set up a ‘one-stop’ shop to facilitate the development of this industry in Ireland, coordinated by the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government. We need a strong proactive policy and direct investment to ensure that our country maintains and develops our expertise in ocean energy, bringing jobs, investment and long-term security of energy supply to our island,” he says.