Investing in green power 'can create 120,000 new jobs'
Huge opportunities in bioenergy are being hampered by bad government the Teagasc National Bioenergy Conference was told last week.
Speaker after speaker at the gathering in Tullamore blamed poor policy making, disjointed Government thinking and fragmented departmental responsibility for crippling the development of the sector and preventing it from playing a key role in the fight against climate change, addressing the energy needs and responding to the jobs crisis.
Chairing one of the earlier sessions of the conference, environmentalist and broadcaster Duncan Stewart, told the audience that Ireland spends €6.5bn a year on imported fossil fuels, oil gas and coal.
According to research Mr Stewart has undertaken for a new TV series, if Ireland were to reinvest those billions into alternative energy sources it could lead to the creation of 120,000 jobs.
"This is not a ball-park theory," explained Mr Stewart. "In the TV programme we will show sector-by-sector where this can be done."
Tom Bruton, of the Irish Bioenergy Association, said there were 26 bioenergy projects representing an investment of €200m with the potential to create 250 full-time jobs waiting for the go-ahead to generate electricity from biomass.
However, the failure of the Government to convince the EU commission that a 2pc biomass tariff on electricity is not state aid has left the whole biomass industry in limbo.
This tariff would facilitate a Public Service Obligation (PSO) to deliver electricity generated by biomass and is the core element of a scheme known as the Renewable Energy Feed in Tariff (REFIT III) scheme.