More than 80,000 jobs can be created in alternative energy, says Labour


THE LABOUR Party has said more than 80,000 jobs can be created in the energy sector if the Government moves quickly to alternative forms of energy and adopts a more ambitious approach to insulation.

The party yesterday published a policy paper that outlined how a greatly reduced dependence on fossil fuels could create jobs.

The cornerstone of the paper, entitled the Energy Revolution, is a national insulation scheme targeted at the entire housing stock. The scheme, said the party’s energy spokeswoman Liz McManus, had the potential to create 30,000 jobs. Labour said it wanted to target all of the 1.2 million dwellings in Ireland in need of an energy-efficient retrofit. With the average cost of a retrofit estimated at €12,000, the overall cost of achieving an energy-efficient housing stock in Ireland would be up to €15 billion.

Labour said this could be financed by a “pay as you save” scheme by utility companies like the ESB, Bord Gáis and Airtricity.

Ms McManus said the scheme would be analogous to the one run by ESB in the past that allowed people to buy cookers and white goods in instalments through their electricity bills. The party has also identified another possible 53,000 jobs in the wider energy sector, though it says its projections for some are tentative.

It says that more than 10,000 jobs can be created in wind energy, mainly in construction. While accepting that the technology has not yet been fully developed, the paper identifies the potential for 20,000 jobs in ocean energy.

Ms McManus also identified a large number of niche jobs: 8,000 in micro-generation (small community power plants); 5,000 jobs in biomass and a further 5,000 in biofuels and afforestation. She said the Government was lagging behind in its plans to plant 20,000 hectares of forest each year. Ms McManus also pointed out the existing commitments to create 3,700 clean energy jobs in the ESB and a further 300 new clean energy jobs announced by Bord na Móna.

Ms McManus said the greatest contribution the State could make to create jobs in the sector was to design a proper regulatory and statutory framework.

Party leader Eamon Gilmore, speaking at the launch, said Ireland had one of the richest wind and wave resources in the world. “We need to invest strategically now and clear the blockages that keep our renewable energy sector from growing,” he said.