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Renewed hope in the energy market

The sustainable energy sector of the Northern Ireland economy has more than doubled in the last three years.

In 2007, it had an annual turnover of £300m and employed 4,500 people. Today, the sustainable energy sector has a turnover of £700m. Employment has also climbed over that period by more than 30% from 4,500 to 6,800.

However, local firms are being urged to take advantage of the multi-billion pound global marine energy market.

Just last week, Energia announced that it is to add wave power to its 220MW renewable energy portfolio.

But, according to experts, other Northern Ireland companies, which are uniquely placed, need to tap into the potential of this major growth sector.

An Invest NI report, Maximising Business Opportunities in Sustainable Energy Technologies, found that Northern Ireland should focus its sustainable energy efforts on: offshore energy, bio-|energy, integrated building energy and energy storage.

And with the UK offshore wind energy market estimated to be worth £100bn within the next decade, Northern Ireland, as part of the UK, has the opportunity to become a world leader in offshore wind energy supply.

Local companies have already provided services to two of the three major UK marine projects, installing offshore wind and tidal turbines, which are linked to the national grid and integrating |renewable energy into the network.

Northern Ireland has a solid base on which to build and expand for future development, and Invest NI believes the rapid growth of the sector offers many opportunities for all businesses in Northern Ireland in design, installation or manufacture of the component parts of the various technologies.

Last week, the strength of the local renewables sector was highlighted to US investors as part of a renewable marine energy and Smart Grid workshop.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said: “Northern Ireland’s renewables sector has the potential for significant growth as our geographic location and local capabilities offer mutual benefits.

“Global energy companies can access Northern Ireland’s technology, skills and advanced expertise, while local companies can build strategic partnerships which open up export markets.”