Up to 69,000 jobs and turnover of £7.5bn could be generated through the effective development of marine energy resources on an all-Ireland basis, concludes a report jointly commissioned by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland and Invest NI.
Some 52,000 jobs across the island could be created in the wave energy sector and 17,000 more in tidal energy.
The creation of this level of economic activity and job creation depends on governments in the North and the Republic investing in marine energy technologies and re-committing themselves to existing targets for the use of sustainable energy sources.
The report argues that government support of £50m is needed to assist the development of the sector, but that it would generate revenues many times that, with substantial inward investment likely to follow.
A pilot scheme for the use of marine energy is underway in Strangford Lough and another is being developed on the Antrim coast. In the Republic, a test will take place off the Mayo coast.
The report, authored by SQW Energy, says that the best sites for tidal energy are in northern Ireland, with the best locations for wave power situated in the south, on the Atlantic coast.
Publication of the report was soon followed by an announcement from Australia’s Carnegie Wave Energy that it would invest £125,000 — with a similar commitment from the Sustainable Energy Association of Ireland — to explore potential marine energy sites on Ireland’s coast.
“Reaching formal agreement with SEAI for project funding allows us to begin detailed site assessment and develop the conceptual design of a 5MW commercial demonstration project in Ireland,” said Carnegie's executive director of European business development, Kieran O'Brien.
A second report, produced by the Northern Ireland Renewable Industry Group, suggested that more than 1,300 jobs could be created in the North through greater use of renewable energy resources.