As Ireland looks to reduce its carbon emissions and take action on climate change, the energy industry is going through a period of unprecedented change. In the new national Climate Action Plan, the Government has made a landmark commitment to raising the amount of electricity generated from renewables sources to 70% by 2030. And according to those at the heart of the industry, the way we produce our power isn’t the only thing that’s changing.
Director of SSE Airtricity
“As science and technology continues to transform the energy industry, companies need a diverse range of people and skills to continually unlock new ideas and deliver for customers,” says Klair Neenan, Director of SSE Airtricity.
“This is rapidly leading to a much more vibrant and diverse industry. Ensuring you have an inclusive and diverse business isn’t just the right thing to do, it means you’re getting a wide variety of ideas, attracting the right people for the right roles, and stimulating innovation.”
Neenan is calling on Irish people to be part of, ‘generation green’ and create positive change by choosing green energy and making small, sustainable choices that can make a big difference for our environment.
Director of Development, SSE Renewables
Most of the energy SSE Airtricity provides to homes and businesses comes from the wind farms operated by its sister company, SSE Renewables. Charged with developing new wind farm projects, Maria Ryan, a Chartered Engineer and Director of Development at SSE Renewables, knows all about utilising the latest technology to drive change in the industry. “The technology for renewable energy generation is constantly developing. Onshore wind has been a huge success story in Ireland, but the scale of the challenge is now greater than ever, and we need a range of technologies to deliver on our climate and energy ambitions,” she says.
“As a proven, large-scale solution, offshore wind, can help us bridge the gap to our EU targets for 2030 and beyond, and play a key role in our transition to a low-carbon future. It’s exciting to see the development of innovative technologies like floating turbines too, which will allow future projects to be built in water depths not feasible for fixed-foundation turbines.”
SSE Renewables is currently progressing the development of Arklow BankWind Park in the Irish Sea, which, once completed, would be capable of generating enough green energy to power roughly 420,000 homes and offset around 640,000 tonnes of harmful carbon emissions annually.
The renewable energy movement
Head of Marketing and Customer Value Management,SSE Airtricity
With the scale of the climate challenge now greater than ever, it’s no surprise that there’s so much focus on large-scale renewable generation. However, Victoria Groom, Head of Marketing and Customer Value Management at SSE Airtricity, points out that smaller-scale projects have a big part to play too.
“Microgeneration is really exciting,” she says. “We’re seeing a huge shift in customer attitudes towards going green. I think people are really starting to see it as a win-win, in that it allows customers to cut down on their carbon footprint, while making savings on their energy bills at the same time.
“Whether it’s installing solar panels, or upgrading to more energy-efficient lighting, people are making changes to the way they use energy. That’s what generation green is all about.”
Environmental Advisor, SSE Renewables
Besides the energy they generate, energy companies must consider their wider environmental and sustainability impacts. That’s where ecologist Carmel Brennan comes in. In her role as Environmental Advisor, Brennan focuses on sustainability and biodiversity. She says: “From supply chain to habitat management, renewable energy isn’t all about spanners and hammers. Environmental science has become a key priority across all areas of energy generation.
“For instance, wind farm sites can directly support and help protect Ireland’s native bee species. By providing a sustainable use for land in marginal areas, we can help protect valuable heather and wildflower habitats where bees can thrive.”
Numerous roles in STEM where you can make a difference
From production to supply, the energy industry is unquestionably changing. With an increasingly diverse workforce and a wide variety of STEM-based skills on display, it looks like ‘generation green’ is ready to make a genuine and lasting difference for our planet, and for many more generations to come.