Energy leaders Say Development and Training in the Sustainable Energy Sector in Ireland’s Rural Areas will Mean Long-term Job Creation and Economic Recovery

An international discussion platform to provoke debate on critical energy issues will take place at the first annual Robert John Kane Energy Symposium from the 27th April to the 29th of April 2011 in Drumshanbo. Hosted by the Drumshanbo Forum Ltd., the symposium will act as the first stage of a three-part programme, generating tangible and productive ideas that will be embraced in the further development of the Lough Allen Basin Smart Energy Hub. The LABS Energy Hub is set to become a centre of excellence exemplifying energy economies of scale, with lasting benefits for the environment and rural communities, through the further development of renewable energy sources and the creation of new jobs. The LABS Energy Hub is a North West Regional initiative of Drumshanbo Forum Ltd.

 “The original National Development Plan focused on Hub and Gateway towns and cities.  However, with the inherent rural characteristics of renewable energy, the new NDP 2012 – 2019 can embrace rural areas and encourage emigrants home to work not only in their own country but in their own communities,” said Elizabeth Muldowney, Energy Officer with An Taisce and one of the Forum members. “Energy both on a macro and micro level is one of the sectors along with agriculture and food that will rejuvenate Ireland’s economy and the LABS Energy Hub will be at the core of that rejuvenation in this region.”

The Drumshanbo Forum team believe that Ireland is in a prime position to be a renewable energy hub.  Moreover, as a result of the nature of renewable energy, rural Ireland is set to be the base of this manufacturing.  In line with the Innovation and Commercialisation component of the Programme for Government, the area of Energy ICT will be examined at RJK Energy with input from Intel on Smart Grids and a Taiwanese green energy company CEO.  Science Foundation Ireland is supporting this initiative whole-heartedly. Another aim of the LABS Energy Hub is to develop a ‘niche tourism product’ i.e. Energy Tourism which will be explored with and by Failte Ireland at the Symposium.

Additional Information:

The Forum’s three stage strategy is aimed at long-term job creation and training in the sustainable energy sector.

  • Stage 1 The Robert John Kane Annual Energy Symposium (April 27th-29th)
  • Stage 2: Attract energy companies to the LABS Energy Hub to create sustainable employment, training and R&D; establish energy courses in the VEC College in Drumshanbo and create links with Sligo IT and International Universities.
  • Stage 3: Assign the official designation ‘Smart Energy Zone’ to the LABS catchment area.

Speakers and panel leaders include Minister for Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte, T.D., Alex Daue of America’s leading conservation society, The Wilderness Society, and Do Chiang-Hsiung Tong, Director of Green Energy in Taiwan. Panel chairs will include Senator Pascal Mooney and John Bowman and an evening gala will feature economist and best-selling author David McWilliams.

The Drumshanbo Forum Ltd. team, comprised of amongst others, an engineer, an energy policy specialist, a management accountant and an entrepreneur, is working closely with Leitrim VEC and Sligo I.T. to ensure a holistic regional economic model.  The first course on renewable energy will begin in the local VEC college in Drumshanbo in September 2011 and is FETAC accredited.  This, and the links with Sligo I.T., and international universities will create a local, specially trained labour supply for companies already operating in the LABS region and for those currently considering locating in the LABS Energy Hub.

This year’s three main debating subjects are:

1. Planning for Energy: The Need for a National Energy–Specific Planning Body

To be chaired by RTE’s John Bowman will centre on planning policies relating to energy development such as electricity infrastructure and generation projects like wind farms, pumped storage and bio-energy.  Speaking on the panel will be the following:

§  Mr Aidan Corcoran, Manager Grid 25 Programme, Eirgrid

§  Mr Willem de Kleijn, Planning Advisor, Energy, South Holland Environment Dept.

§  Mr Alex Daue, Renewable Energy Coordinator, The Wilderness Society, Colorado

§  Mr George Burke, Planning Division, Dept. of the Environment

§  Dr John Reilly, Head of Power Generation, Bord na Mona

§  Ms Elizabeth Muldowney, National Energy Officer, An Taisce

2. Energy ICT: A Future for Job Creation In Ireland

To be chaired by Dr Fionn Murtagh of SFI.  Panelists include:

§  Mr Charlie Sheridan, Senior IT Consultant, Intel

§  Mr Niall Mc Evoy, Head of Innovation, Institute of Technology, Sligo

§  Mr Senan McGrath, Chief Technology Officer, ESB ecars

§  Dr Pat Monaghan, Managing Director of ENERIT

§  Dr Chiang-Hsiung Tong, Director of Green Energy and Environment Research Laboratories

§  Dr Stephen Daniels, Lecturer, School of Electronic Engineering, DCU 

3. Energy Tourism: Embrace Energy Developments or Ignore Them?

To be chaired by Senator Paschal Mooney.  Panelists include

§  Mr Paddy Mathews, Environmental & Planning Manager, Failte Ireland

§  Ms Mary Mulvey, Chief Executive Officer, Green Box

§  Mr Colm Keane, Manager, Arigna Mining Experience

§  Mr Cillian Murphy, Loop Head Tourism



Registration is now open for the Robert John Kane Symposium at


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