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Plan to develop green economy launched

The Irish government plans to step up research and development for the “green economy” and pursue policies that could deliver an estimated 10,000 green jobs by 2015.

Details of the strategy are contained in ‘Delivering Our Green Potential’, a government policy statement launched by the minister for jobs, enterprise and innovation, Richard Bruton, on 23 November.

The document maps out plans to invest in research and support growth in the sector, with the aim of growing company formation, job creation and exports.

Targeted areas include green financial services, agriculture and food production, marine energy development and ecotourism. The plan is to take a whole-of-government approach, coordinating departmental actions.

The initiative will be led by the existing Cabinet Committee on Climate Change and the Green Economy chaired by the Taoiseach (prime minister). Bruton will also form and head a Consultative Committee on the Green Economy, charged with working with industry to identify emerging opportunities for Ireland.

Many actions envisioned by the policy document are already in train—for example, the rapid expansion of renewable energy resources. The plan proposes adding at least 200 megawatts of renewable electricity generation to the grid each year. This includes legislation in support of offshore licensing for marine-based renewable energy systems.

The plan refers to Ireland’s “strong R&D base, which is highly relevant to a number of Green Economy opportunities”. It also highlights existing “strengths in key enabling technologies such as engineering, ICT and biotechnology”.

It proposes to focus on research into renewable marine energy—wind, wave and tidal—on smart grid and smart city research, and on sustainable food supplies. These areas were highlighted as growth sectors in a research prioritisation report published last March.

The government will also use its enterprise and development agencies, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland, to target indigenous companies and encourage green financial services companies to set up in Ireland.

Ireland employs about 18,750 in six green economy sectors, according to government figures for 2010. It traded €6.8 billion worth of low-carbon environmental goods during 2010-11, the report states.