Solar power 'could create at least jobs 3,000 by 2020'
at least 3,000 jobs could be created with the installation of 500 megawatts of solar energy in Ireland over the next five years, it has been claimed.
In a consultation for a Government Green Paper, which was seeking feedback on the role alternative technologies could have in developing renewable energy, the Irish Solar Energy Association (ISEA) also said that tax reliefs available to other forms of renewable energy should be extended to solar energy.
The consultation on the Green Paper is now closed, with the Government due to publish a White Paper next month.
The White Paper will outline the policy direction of the Government towards the renewable energy sector. Minister for Energy Alex White has previously said that there will be an emphasis on renewable power, energy efficiency and new technology such as smart meters.
In a consultation submission the ISEA said that, with the right policy framework, "solar energy could account for 10pc of renewable energy generation capacity by 2020, representing 500MW of installed generation capacity".
It added: "This will make a significant contribution to Ireland's 2020 carbon reduction targets, create a minimum of 3,000 jobs and solidify Ireland's position as a centre of excellence for Renewable Energy."
The organisation also put forward an argument for allowing solar to qualify for a renewable energy feed-in tariff, which currently applies for sources of renewable energy including biomass and wind.
With feed-in tariffs excess power produced by qualifying sources of energy is fed back into the national grid in return for a small rebate from the State.
It said that if a tariff were to be introduced for solar it should be brought in for all three solar developments; residential, commercial rooftop and solar plants.
Lightsource, one of the biggest solar companies in the world, recently announced plans to invest several hundred million euros in Ireland.
However, the company's chief executive, Nick Boyle, said the final amount would be dependent on the results of the paper. He said that as much as 1.5 gigawatts of solar could be installed in Ireland by 2020.
Solar energy is one of the lesser-used sources of renewable energy in Ireland, which currently has no commercial solar farms.