A new report published by Ireland's Solar Energy Association (ISEA) has found that the country could benefit from more than 7,300 skilled new jobs if it deploys solar power technologies more widely. Additionally, fuller adoption of solar power would also reduce EU fines by over £300 million annually from 2020 onwards (assuming, of course, that the UK and Ireland remain subject to the original terms of the energy targets signed up to before the referendum result).
The ISEA are now calling on the government to bring in fresh policy support systems for this form of green energy, as solar is the only remaining renewable energy that doesn't yet qualify for subsidy support. The group's research found that, in the first fortnight of June this year, a commercial solar development in the south of the country produced over 16,000 megawatts of clean and green energy - suggesting that a more structured solar sector could supply a meaningful proportion of Ireland's total energy needs.
Ireland currently looks unlikely to achieve its renewable power goals for the EU 2020 project, which require 40pc of its power to be produced by clean energy. In 2014 it achieved a 23pc renewable contribution from biomass, hydropower and wind energy, but fell short of its goals. Notably - and worryingly too - over 85pc of the electricity Ireland used in 2014 was imported, primarily from coal sources.
The ISEA's Chairman, David Maguire, said that it was evident that Ireland faced a significant challenge to achieve its targets and avoid heavy EU penalties. He added that wind power alone would not be sufficient to reach the targets and that solar needed further support. He explained that every 1pc of investment in solar would return 3pc to the economy.