Europe’s largest manufacturer of wind turbines has joined forces with a Mayo based renewable energy company which could result in the creation of over 1,000 new manufacturing jobs over ten years if it goes ahead.
German firm Enercon and Irish company Atlantic Coast Co-OpLtd (ACE) have agreed to collaborate on an exclusivity partnership for the next ten years to work on the development of the wind energy industry in Mayo.
Enercon is the fourth largest manufacturer of wind turbines in the world, and believe Ireland has huge energy resources which it can capture and transport to Britain. They along with ACE Co-Op are currently finalising a feasibility study to utilise and realise the wind energy potential of Mayo.
Dermot McDonnell of ACE Co-Op which is based in Bellacorrick told The Mayo News that Enercon currently employ 1,200 people in the manufacturing of wind turbines in Portugal, with a further 400 employed in the maintenance and operations of the turbines in local windfarms.He explained that the largest windfarm in Ireland is proposed for north Mayo and believes that the manufacturing of those turbines can be completed in Mayo by Enercon instead of importing them into the region.
“In Portugal they manufacture concrete towers for the turbines for local wind farms which do not have half the wind we have. Coillte and Bord na Móna are planning large wind farms in Mayo and there is no reason why they cannot use wind turbines manufactured in Mayo. If everything goes to plan we could have 1,000 manufacturing jobs over ten years in Mayo with 800 jobs in operations and maintenance,” he told The Mayo News.
Mr McDonnell, a native of Castlebar, ran in the last General Election for the Mayo constituency as an Independent is a founding member of Spirit of Ireland, a national project for energy independence proposed by a group of engineers, developers, consultants and former investment bankers.
Enercon have been manufacturing wind turbines since 1984 and employ over 13,000 people and set up their Irish headquarters in Kerry in 2010. Since then they have installed turbines with a capacity of 80 MW around the country and consider large areas of cutaway bog as ideal for this activity.
Mr McDonnell said they have met with officials from Mayo County Council and the German company showed Enda Kenny around a windfarm on a visit to Brussels. He said their aim was to develop sustainable local employment dependent on the level of investment in the wind industry development of Mayo; stimulate the local economy by way of direct and indirect employment in the turbine manufacturing industry and ultimately the national economy by way of employment and revenue generated from the wind industry in Mayo.
However, he added that the long-term feasibility of the project largely depended on the development of the grid in Mayo by Eirgrid which is not expected to be completed until 2020.