Mar 15 2010 Posted: 00:00 GMT
Shannon Region to become Major Green Energy Hub with the launch of the Shannon Energy Valley Initiative The University of Limerick (UL), National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway), Shannon Development, and Silicon Valley's Irish Technology Leadership Group (ITLG) today announced the launch of the Shannon Energy Valley, a major renewable energy hub in Ireland's Shannon Region. The Shannon Energy Valley initiative will create a national hub for Energy research and development, industry and commerce with a view to attracting international investment and generating high-end employment in the region. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed between the four partners that commits them to delivering a hub of excellence and innovation that will harness the natural resources of the region, as well as its highly skilled workforce and access to top class research and development expertise at UL and NUI Galway. Speaking at the launch of Shannon Energy Valley, which took place at the ITLG conference in Silicon Valley, California, today Professor Brian Fitzgerald, Vice-President Research UL said that the Shannon Energy Valley is the first step on the road towards energy self-sufficiency for Ireland while generating much needed employment opportunities and reducing costs for industry. "The European Wind Energy Association has estimated that the spending on importing energy in Ireland works out at almost €1,000 per annum for every man, woman and child. Ireland is surrounded by natural resources in the form of wind, wave, tidal, solar and local geothermal energy. This is a major opportunity for Ireland to become a leader in energy research while also maximising our resources and in turn creating sustainable green collar jobs." NUI Galway Vice-President for Research, Professor Terry Smith, said: "The Shannon Energy Valley concept seeks to provide a big-picture coherent ecosystem relating to energy. The main research partners, NUI Galway and UL, will combine their research efforts in a coherent way from the outset and will provide a range of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes right up to PhD level to provide the necessary human capital for the project. NUI Galway introduced a New B.E. in Energy Systems Engineering, integrating energy sources, energy conversion and energy utilisation in 2009, while UL has also commenced its BSc. Energy programme with the first cohort of students due to graduate in 2013. Both Universities have been to the forefront in Technology Transfer in recent years. This formal partnership, however, in the development of an Irish energy hub, in association with the other two partners, is the first major initiative in regional development to flow directly from the Strategic Alliance between NUI Galway and UL launched by An Taoiseach, Brian Cowen TD, on 18 February last , a groundbreaking strategy of combining the resources of the two Universities over a wide range of their operations in the interests of both the development of the region and their students". Speaking at the ITLG event, Dr Vincent Cunnane, Chief Executive, Shannon Development, said "The Shannon Energy Valley project brings together public and private sector organisations in a unique initiative that will lead to new opportunities and developments in the energy sector. The Shannon Energy Valley initiative will support the development, manufacture, installation, operation and maintenance of wind, wave/tidal, biomass, solar, geothermal generation facilities and related infrastructure. A key component of the Shannon Energy Valley will be the development of an Energy and Environment Park which will host demonstrator projects in the area of renewable energy and will serve to showcase projects to ensure public awareness and community engagement." Mr John Hartnett, President and Founder of ITLG, and President and CEO of Silicon Valley based Solar Energy Company, G24 Innovations, said: "This initiative with the partners University of Limerick, NUI Galway, Shannon Development and the ITLG puts Ireland in a optimum position to become a leading innovator and developer of clean technologies". The MOU sets out the objectives of the four-way alliance between the Irish and US bodies as:
- The creation of a world-class cluster of sustainable energy-related activity to support job creation and business start-ups through national and international investment
- Reduction of Ireland's carbon footprint, energy generation costs, dependency on fossil fuel imports and helping the country meet environmental and emissions commitments
- Enhancing Ireland's capability in the sustainable energy sector by attracting world-class R&D energy expertise, realising its commercial benefits and enabling further, advanced R&D activities
- Growing Ireland's smart economy by developing additional education and training capability at undergraduate and postgraduate levels in specialised energy disciplines.