The Memorandum of Understanding on energy cooperation that UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Edward Davey, and I signed on 24 January will result in completion of consideration of how Irish renewable energy resources, onshore and offshore, might be developed to the mutual benefit of Ireland and the United Kingdom. This will determine whether it is beneficial for both countries to enter into an Inter-Governmental Agreement under the Renewable Energy Directive to provide for renewable energy trading.
If an Inter-Governmental Agreement is entered into, there are potential significant employment opportunities. As an example, employment creation arising from a 3,000 MW project would be expected to be in the order of 3,000 to 6,000 job years in the construction phase, with the actual number dependent on the construction schedule to 2020. There would also be additional jobs created in the ongoing maintenance of turbines over a 20-year operating life. Further employment opportunities could arise if turbines or components were to be manufactured in Ireland. Policy certainly is important in that regard. Additionally, all relevant State agencies, particularly in the enterprise area, would have to coordinate their activities early in the process to ensure employment potential of export projects is maximised. This opportunity has already been identified by the IDA and Enterprise Ireland in their clean technology growth strategies.