December 2013, GIFSC Sustainability Gathering, Dublin Castle, Ireland
Dublin Castle, the scene of many of Ireland’s most historic events, once again was the venue for a momentous gathering on December 12 when more than 300 innovators, entrepreneurs and policymakers came together to accelerate their efforts to put Ireland at the forefront of sustainability. Already their knowledge, skill and vision are rapidly creating new jobs and attracting investment from those clambering to be part of this green revolution.
It is rare to find so many executives and business people who are all passionate about the same issue in one place. And even rarer for them all to be able to engage directly with the government ministers, and the key policy makers and agencies who want to learn how to support their efforts to create jobs and prosperity in the Irish economy. But this was the Sustainability Gathering 2013 – the event that will become an annual summit and an important touchstone for this burgeoning sector.
The scale of the potential opportunities and what can be achieved was immediately reaffirmed as lively sessions were peppered with good news announcements welcomed by the participants and those closely following the event on social media. Indeed such was the level of interest far beyond Dublin Castle that by lunchtime #sustainabilitygathering was trending on twitter.
Ireland’s green asset managers set the tone by announcing that this industry, which manages investment in water and renewable energy sectors, won €3 billion ($4 billion) in new funds during 2013. This success augers well for Ireland to realise its goal of becoming a global leader in the fast growing $260 billion global green asset management sector that is expected to grow fourfold to over $1 trillion by 2020.
The €3 billion ($4 billion) of new funds will go towards financing renewable projects being led by Irish companies here and across the globe. It will also support the development, finance and promotion of a low-carbon economy and fund renewable energy generation, energy efficiency measures, the trading and management of carbon and cleantech/ sustainable funds.
This huge investment will also yield dividends in terms of jobs that are already coming on-stream. BNRG, Power Capital, Mainstream and Gaelectric told the gathering that together they have already created significant job numbers in the past 12 months, with further construction jobs to follow over the next two years as they expand.
Meanwhile Irish consumer electrical goods firm Glen Dimplex announced a €40 million investment to establish a new research and development group in county Louth focused on smart heating technologies of the future. This new unit is seeking to capitalise on the world’s move towards a decarbonised electricity system driven by wind and solar PV-generated electricity.
Mainstream Renewable Power, the Irishbased group founded by Eddie O’Connor that is now the world’s biggest independent renewables companies, also brought welcome news to the Sustainability Gathering. It announced the establishment of Mainstream Capital, a vehicle that will create a new platform for the company to access capital at up to 20 percent less than current commercial rates. Mainstream Capital will target pension funds and insurance companies that want to benefit from Government-backed, long-term cash flows by investing directly in Mainstream’s wind and solar projects.
Irish Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton, said the announcements demonstrated Irish innovation and leadership in the moves to a low-carbon economy. “The Government has ear-marked the green economy as a core area for Irish economic recovery and growth” he assured the sector.
Speakers included Minister Bruton, former Taoiseach, John Bruton, who is the current President of the EU European Resource Efficiency Platform; Enterprise Ireland Chief Executive, Julie Sinnamon; Eugene O’Callaghan, Director Ireland’s Strategic Investment Fund, Angus McCrone, Chief Editor, Bloomberg New Energy Finance and Jonathan Maxwell, Founder and CEO of SDCL which manages the world’s government-backed energy efficiency funds.
Stephen Nolan, Chairman of the Sustainability Gathering said it was no surprise that Forbes had recently ranked Ireland the best country for business. The ambitious targets for Ireland to win a large slice of green assets under management is achievable, he said, “due to the combination of two additional key factors: a world-class renewables and cleantech enterprise sector and the existence of a world-class international financial services centre. This combined expertise is what sets Ireland apart from other competitors.”
2013 SUSTAINABILITY GATHERING SPEAKERS
Minister Richard Bruton TD, Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation
David Murphy, Business Editor, RTÉ
Stephen Nolan, Sustainability Gathering Chairperson
Jonathan Maxwell, CEO Sustainable Development Capital (SDCL)
William Parnell, Head of Competitiveness & Climate Change,
Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation
Alex O’Cinneide, CEO, Gore Street Capital
Louise Wilson, Managing Director, Abundance Generation
Richard Nourse, Managing Partner, Greencoat Capital
Bernard Byrne, Director of Personal, Business & Corporate Banking, Board member, AIB
Sean O’Driscoll, CEO, Glen Dimplex
Eugene O’Callaghan, Director, National Pension Reserve Fund
Professor Diarmaid Ferriter, Modern History, UCD
John Bruton, President EU European Resource Efficiency Platform & IFSC President
Julie Sinnamon, CEO, Enterprise Ireland
Mark Foley, Managing Director, Coillte Enterprises
Kieran Donoghue, Global Head of International Financial Services, IDA Ireland
Angus McCrone, Editor-in-Chief, Blommberg New Energy Finance
Dr Brian Motherway, CEO, SEAI
Professor Brian MacCraith, President, DCU
John Mullins, CEO, Amarenco
Stjohn O’Connor, Principal Officer, Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources
Fiona Quinn, Principal Officer, Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government
Jim Gavin, Manager Dublin Gaelic Football team