Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Energy and Environment Division Lunch with Minister Rabbitte

The Energy and Environment Division of Engineers Ireland hosted Pat Rabbitte TD Minister for Communications Energy and Natural Resources to a Lunch Meeting at Clyde Road.

The Chairman of the Division Jim Gannon together with the Director General John Power and myself welcomed the Minister who indeed had also launched our State of Ireland Infrastructure Report last February.

Pictured outside 22 Clyde Road were Director General John Power, Chairman of Energy and Environment Division, Jim Gannon, Minister Pat Rabbitte TD, President of Engineers Ireland,
PJ Rudden and Liam O’Cleirigh Energy & Environment Division Member

There was a very large attendance of energy engineers at the meeting drawn from the public and private sectors. The Minister gave a very significant speech on Irish Energy Policy set in the context of our international obligations and the current fiscal limitations.

Before his speech I welcomed the Minister and underlined how critically important Engineers Ireland considered Energy Policy and Development as key infrastructure to further grow the economy. I also referred to our recent Infrastructure Report which he helped us launch during Engineers Week in February.

The Minister then spoke about the fundamentals of Government energy policy in Ireland - 'If the growth agenda is fundamental to Europe's sustainable recovery strategy, energy policy has a pivotal role to play in creating the conditions for a return to economic recovery and job creation. The well being of our country and society depends on safe, secure, sustainable and affordable energy......

Ireland can benefit from a low carbon economy based around radically increased energy efficiency, accelerated deployment of renewable energy, smart networks and a well functioning, well interconnected internal energy market.....we have a rich and abundant wind and ocean energy potential which I firmly believe can be harvested and exported as a real economic opportunity for this island.....

Expert advice suggests that Ireland has the capability to achieve its national targets for renewable electricity from onshore renewable generation alone with capacity to spare. This means that our offshore wind resource can be developed as an export opportunity.......

There is a real opportunity to develop offshore wind in the Irish Sea area in the short term as these are reasonably close to both coastlines and in relatively shallow waters.... with cost advantages over the North Sea area........'

The Minister was very strongly in favour of renewable energy onshore to meet our targets and offshore for export purposes. He also stated that the lack of a North South Interconnector was costing the Irish consumers and looked forward to its early construction together with completion of the East West Interconnector. He stated that 'development of the high voltage electricity grid as planned in the GRID25 strategy is critical to our long term economic recovery.’

He looked forward to the EU Presidency when the alignment of Energy, ICT and Innovation will be highlighted to unlock new potential for investment and employment. He was also anxious that Ireland seizes the competitive advantage within Europe as a prime location for energy research and innovation.

We in Engineers Ireland were left in no doubt that the Minister clearly favours our balanced view of Energy Policy as outlined in our State of Ireland Infrastructure Report and that he is not for turning on current national targets and projects as they are essential to assist our national recovery. It had been a most interesting and revealing meeting.

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