AS MANY as 35,000 jobs could be created if Ireland meets 2020 targets to double the amount of wind energy on the system, and builds controversial farms in the Midlands for export.
A new study from the ESRI and Trinity College Dublin says the jobs would be created in construction, manufacturing, engineering and in the IT sector.
Private sector investment between €7bn and €29bn would be required to build out the ambitious plans, assuming they receive planning permission and the required permits.
Even if the exporting farms don’t go ahead, the study says, some 8,355 posts - twice the current number - will be created in the industry.
Commissioned by Siemens and the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA), the ‘An Enterprising Wind’ report examines the job potential in three scenarios - that Ireland meets its current 2020 targets and installs 4000MW of wind energy; that it builds on the existing target of 4,000MW and installs an additional 4,000MW capacity for export, and develops 4,000MW of domestic capacity and another 8,000MW for export.
Researchers assumed that the expansion was funded by private industry, with no investment required from the State.
“This independent study highlights the considerable potential the wind energy sector has to drive economic growth in Ireland and, most critically, creating local jobs in local communities,” IWEA chief executive Kenneth Matthews said.
“It is important now that all stakeholders and communities work closely together to grow the existing employment level of this sector from 3,400 to the potential that this report shows can be achieved for the benefit of all.”
Jobs created in the wind energy sector would span a range of areas including engineering, operation & maintenance, executive and commercial roles and roles for low skilled workers.
The report highlights that Ireland has an existing comparative advantage in the design of IT systems and software.