Economy


31
Jul 12

Windfarm holds jobs promise for Offaly

Pictured is Kevin O' Donovan, Element Power ,Sean Flemmimg, FF TD Laois-Offaly, and Charile Flanagan, TD, Laois-Offaly and Tim Cowhig, CEO Element Power. Photo Chris Bellew /Fennell PhotographyPictured is Kevin O’ Donovan, Element Power ,Sean Flemmimg, FF TD Laois-Offaly, and Charile Flanagan, TD, Laois-Offaly and Tim Cowhig, CEO Element Power. Photo Chris Bellew /Fennell Photography

National Grid UK, the operator of the UK electricity network, has confirmed that a firm grid connection of 3,000 megawatts has been awarded to global renewable energy developer, Element Power and this holds the prospect of a major jobs boost for Offaly and the Midlands region.

This is the first such dedicated UK connection offered to an Irish renewable energy exporter and enables Element Power to progress ‘Greenwire’ – a series of connected projects exporting wind power generated in the Midlands of Ireland to the UK via two independent subsea cables. ‘Firm’ connection means that the UK power market can take the output at all times, enabling €1.2billion worth of energy exports annually from the Irish economy.

Greenwire will involve a total spend of €8billion during the construction phase, of which a significant proportion will be spent in developing wind energy infrastructure in Ireland. It will result in the creation of an estimated 10,000 development and construction jobs and up to 3,000 long term jobs. A legacy interconnector between the two countries will also provide an enduring benefit.

Greenwire will deliver considerable direct benefits to the Midlands region as well as the national economy. Rental payments to local landowners combined with annual rates to the local authorities across the Midlands will amount to €50million each year.

Greenwire’ proposes the development of around forty separate wind farms across the Midlands. These will be linked together through underground cabling to a central collection point.

Up to 3000 megawatts (MW) of electrical power could then be exported from this point via two underground and subsea cables to UK grid connection points, Pentir in north Wales and Pembroke in south Wales. No new overhead power lines will be installed. The first 2000MW connection has been confirmed for 2017 and remaining 1000MW connection will be available for 2018.

The project will use the latest high voltage direct current (HVDC) technology, which allows for very efficient transfer of energy over long distances, and is offered by established companies such as Siemens and ABB. The cables will be laid in the verge of public roads on shore, in a similar manner to other services such as water, phone, or gas pipes. Offshore, the cable will be installed by specialised ships under the seabed of the Irish Sea.

The project will be totally independent of the Irish electricity grid and will involve absolutely no cost to the Irish taxpayer. It will however, enable Ireland to export in excess of €1.2billion of wind generated electricity annually to the UK.

UK National Grid has requested tThe Greenwire cables be sized to help offset the need for UK onshore grid reinforcements and enhance the level of interconnection between the Irish and UK power systems.

It is also intended to install fibre optic connection along the two undersea cables between the UK and Ireland and between each of the wind-farms which will itself create a new an substantial broadband network in its own right, significantly improving the prospects for attracting technology and data processing related industries to nearby towns.

Along with the existing 500MW EirGrid Interconnector and the 450MW Moyle Interconnector, the additional interconnection capacity created by Greenwire will give Ireland enormous additional security in its electricity supplies, helping attract foreign investment in energy sensitive industries.

Element Power’s Irish operation in Cork is headed up by Tim Cowhig and a team of experienced wind developers, previously of SWS Energy. The wider Northern European operation is led by Mike O’Neill, previously of RES Group. The company is backed by Hudson Clean Energy Partners, a leading global private equity firm with over $1billion in funding capital dedicated to investing in clean energy.

IDA Ireland is championing the development of Ireland’s renewable energy export industry, recognising that Ireland has wind resources far in excess of what is needed to meet its own renewable energy targets. IDA’s Clean Technologies Division sees the ‘export of electrons’ from Ireland to the UK and other European neighbours as a great opportunity for employment creation in Ireland.

Last month Irish Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte and UK Energy Minister, Charles Hendry agreed a formal Memorandum of Understanding on renewable energy trading between the two countries to be in place by the end of the year.

Element Power Ireland CEO, Tim Cowhig commented, “Greenwire is a particularly timely project which will enable the economy to harness our renewable energy resources to our economic advantage. The UK energy requirement has become Ireland’s opportunity, it makes perfect sense to capitalise on our geographic location and create an export industry. Greenwire is the enabling project that will allow this to happen boosting our national trade and generating considerable employment and benefit to the Midlands region.”

“In anticipation of getting UK grid connection, the company has been working in Ireland over the past two years identifying potential wind farm sites, speaking with local authorities, working with environmental consultants and reaching agreements with land-owners. This is an important step in enabling the project and helping us to meet our target of exporting renewable energy to the UK by 2018. We also spent considerable effort identifying the best grid points in Wales, and we designed our project to match the capacity available. Our connections are not triggering any new overhead line reinforcements in the UK, and this gives us confidence that we can connect by 2018, in time to help the UK meet their 2020 targets.”

The planning application for the Greenwire project will be made in consultation with local authorities and communities in the Midlands. Element Power is currently in consultation with An Bord Pleanála with a view making an application under the terms of the Strategic Infrastructural Development Act 2006.

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4
Jul 12

Xilinx to invest US$50m in expansion of EMEA headquarters, creating 60 jobs

Xilinx to invest US$50m in expansion of EMEA headquarters, creating 60 jobsXilinx to invest US$50m in expansion of EMEA headquarters, creating 60 jobs

Xilinx plans to expand its electronic engineering operations at its EMEA headquarters in Ireland with a US$50m investment that will create 60 high quality engineering jobs in Dublin and Cork.

The advanced microchip designer, which currently employs more than 250 people in Ireland, intends to recruit 45 senior silicon and electronics engineering staff for its regional headquarters in Dublin and Cork, while a further 15 positions will be created across a broad range of disciplines.

The investment, which is supported by IDA Ireland, was announced today by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, TD, and Kevin Cooney, corporate vice-president and managing director of Xilinx in Europe.

“Today’s announcement that Xilinx, a leading global semiconductor company, is making a further multimillion-euro investment in Ireland with the creation of high-value engineering jobs is very welcome, and is a testament to the staff already here as well as to Ireland’s international offering,” said Bruton.

High-level development of all programmable technology

Recruitment will begin immediately to support the company’s high-level development work for advanced technologies and products, working in tandem with Xilinx’s Programmable Platforms Group at its corporate headquarters in the US.

“We’re very pleased with this investment, which endorses the quality of advanced engineering and product development work being undertaken by Xilinx Ireland where everyone is an important contributor to the global success of the corporation,” said Cooney, who believes the expansion will provide a range of valuable career development opportunities for experienced engineers.

“At the same time, it’s symbolic of our steadfast commitment to pioneering ‘all programmable’ technology innovation – far beyond our programmable logic roots – aimed at increasing customer value and expanding our reach to a broad base of design engineers and system architects,” he added.

Xilinx is a leading provider of all programmable technologies and devices, with US$2.2bn in revenues in fiscal year 2012 and nearly 50pc market share in the programmable logic device market, one of the fastest-growing segments of the semiconductor industry.

The Irish investment will fuel the development of faster and more powerful programmable semiconductor microchips that will be capable of processing even higher volumes of information within electronic systems.

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4
Jul 12

Irish firms secure contracts worth €17.6m in France

Exports up following programme to increase trade.Exports up following programme to increase trade.

Irish firms have secured a number of export contracts and deals valued at €17.6 million during a trade mission to France.

The trade mission was part of a programme of events arranged overseas by Enterprise Ireland to help firms expand their export options.

Co Meath-based Dromone, which designs and manufactures coupling technology for the agriculture and construction sectors, secured a €9.7 million contract with Beauvais-based AGCO Group, France’s largest exporter of agricultural products.

Limerick-based agricultural manufacturing company Samco signed its first contract with a French co-op, securing a €220,000 deal with Cavac. Cavac will be the sole distributor of Samco machines and degradable plastic film in the Vendée region in west France.

Kerry-based Dairymaster, a leading manufacturer of dairy farm equipment, signed a contract with animal genetics company Genes Diffusion that is expected to deliver initial sales of €3 million.

More than 35 companies took part in the trade mission.

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2
Jul 12

Irish Economy 2012: Manufacturing PMI rises at fastest pace since April 2011

Irish Economy 2012:  The Irish manufacturing sector showed further signs of recovery in June as demand strengthened over the month. The rate of job creation accelerated to the fastest in 12-and-a-half years. On the price front, a period of strong cost inflation came to an abrupt end while firms left their output prices unchanged over the month. The seasonally adjusted NCB Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) – - an indicator designed to provide a single figure measure of the health of the manufacturing industry – - posted 53.1 in June, up from 51.2 in the previous month. The reading was the highest since April 2011, and signalled a solid improvement in operating conditions in the sector.

Solid increases in both new orders and production were recorded in June. Overall new business rose at the fastest pace in 14 months, while new export orders also expanded. Anecdotal evidence suggested that the launch of new products had helped to stimulate growth of new business. As new orders increased, firms raised their production accordingly. There were still some signs of spare capacity, however, as outstanding business continued to fall. That said, the rate of backlog depletion was weaker than that seen in the preceding month.

Irish manufacturers (dominated by foreign-owned firms)  took on extra staff at a marked pace that was the sharpest since December 1999. Reports suggested that job creation was mainly linked to rising production. A general drop in commodity prices led to a marginal reduction in input costs in June. The fall in input prices was a marked turnaround from strong inflation seen in recent months, and was the first reduction since December 2009.

Firms left their output prices unchanged in June as strong competition prevented a rise in charges. Prior to June, output prices had fallen in ten successive months.

Input buying increased for the fourth successive month, and at a quicker pace as firms raised purchasing in line with higher production. Despite higher demand for inputs, spare capacity at suppliers meant that they were able to reduce lead times for the third time in the past four months. Stocks of purchases continued to decrease as firms remained reluctant to build up inventories. However, strong growth of input buying led the rate of depletion to slow to a marginal pace that was the weakest since February 2008.

A faster rise in production was not sufficient to lead to an increase in post-production inventories as stocks were utilised to help fulfil sales. Moreover, the pace of reduction in stocks of finished goods quickened over the month.

The NCB Republic of Ireland Manufacturing PMI (Purchasing Managers’ Index) is produced by London-based Markit. The report features original survey data collected from a representative panel of around 300 companies based in the Republic of Ireland manufacturing sector. The panel is stratified by Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) group, based on the industry contribution to GDP.

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28
May 12

Mayo man gets €45,000 from Enda for jobs tip-off

Home News

Quick the Government handing out large wads of cash! Well, sort of. The first person has just received €45,000 under a new scheme aimed at attracting new jobs to Ireland.

Mayo man, Eddie Horkan, got his big dirty wad of dough for a tip off which brought 30 jobs in Carlow. Nice work if you can get it.

Eddie managed to find out that US engineering firm Intergeo Services was planning to locate 30 jobs in Scotland. He then dutifully tipped off the State and we managed to rob the 30 jobs from right under the Scots’ noses.

The new customer sales centre was just about to be set up in Glasgow when we swooped in.

Eddie found out that a Scotsman, who lived in Carlow, was in charge of the plan to set up the Scottish base. They then came up with the idea of locating the customer centre in Carlow so the Scotsman wouldn’t have to move.

This is the first successful job creation under the Government’s Succeed in Ireland project. Eddie will get €15,000 for now and the other €30,000 when the jobs are finally created.

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28
May 12

Taoiseach marks €100m Jameson investment with distillery visit

Taoiseach marks €100m Jameson investment with distillery visit

Taoiseach marks €100m Jameson investment with distillery visit

Pictured: Taoiseach Enda Kenny

Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD, visited the Irish Distillers’ distillery in Midleton, Co Cork today, to mark the €100m investment at the facility by Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard.

The company, which announced the expansion at the end of last year, said it was responding to the continued growth of Jameson worldwide. In the year to June 2011, 3.4 million cases of Jameson were sold. The company said the distillery is now operating at full capacity and an expansion is necessary to cater for future forecasted growth.

The Taoiseach’s visit also marked the 20th anniversary of the Jameson Experience, the Jameson visitor centre in Midleton, which has been visited by more than two million visitors since it first opened in 1992.

As part of the investment, 60 manufacturing and technical jobs will be created, 30 in the Midleton Distillery, and a further 30 in the Fox and Geese bottling plant in Dublin, bringing the company’s total employee numbers in Ireland to 560.  Separately, up to 250 jobs will result from the construction process.

A further €100m is being spent developing a new satellite maturation facility at Dungourney, Co. Cork.

“This investment by Irish Distillers is the result of an exceptional performance by Jameson in the world-wide marketplace,” said the Taoiseach. “Today marks a significant day in the future of Irish whiskey production, and the entire food and drinks export industry, as well as for the local economy here in Cork, which has greatly benefited from the presence of both the Distillery and the Jameson Experience Visitors Centre.

“By taking advantage of a supportive and stable economic environment Irish brands can continue to increase exports worldwide.”

Meanwhile, speaking ahead of today’s Whisky Live in Dublin, Michael Foggarty, spokesperson for the event, highlighted the exceptional performance of Irish whiskey globally, with sales of the spirit recently surpassing Scotch single malt sales for the first time. Global Irish whiskey sales exceeded five million cases last year.

Foggarty quoted a recent report, which indicated that Irish whiskey is the fastest growing whiskey category in the world.

Exports of the spirit have increased by 60pc over the past three years and, in the last six months, three of the world’s leading drinks companies have pledged multi million euro investments in their Irish whiskey brands, one of these being the Irish Distillers €100m announcement. Elsewhere, in March, Beam Inc acquired Cooley Distillery, the last remaining Irish-owned distillery, for €95m. In the same month, William Grant & Sons announced a €35m investment in Tullamore Dew that will bring whiskey production back to Tullamore for the first time since the original distillery closed in 1954.

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25
May 12

McDonald’s €350m contract to create 65 jobs

SOME 65 permanent jobs are to be created in Co Waterford, as well as 100 construction posts, following the announcement that Dawn Meats has been awarded a €300 million contract to process up to 18,000 tonnes of Irish beef a year for McDonald’s Europe.

McDonald’s currently sources 40,000 tonnes of beef from Ireland each year, which is used in its Irish and European restaurants.

Up to now Irish beef has been shipped to Britain, where it was processed before entering the McDonald’s supply chain. That meat will now be processed in a purpose-built facility in Carroll’s Cross, Co Waterford.

McDonald’s is the single biggest purchaser of Irish beef, buying about 10 per cent of Ireland’s total beef output. It will continue to source its beef from a number of Irish processors including Dawn Meats, Kepak and AIBF.

The decision to locate the processing plant in Ireland followed a review of capacity across McDonald’s Europe.

While Adrian Crean, managing director of McDonald’s Ireland, declined to comment on the other companies or countries that were in the running for the contract, it is understood that a number of EU countries, such as Germany and Britain, were considered.

Other Irish beef processors are likely to have expressed an interest in the contract.

Mr Crean said the decision to locate the facility in Ireland reflected the company’s belief that “Irish beef, which is produced from cattle reared on a natural diet, grazing extensively in open fields . . . is one of the best there is”.

One in five hamburgers sold in McDonald’s restaurants across Europe is made from Irish beef. Britain, Germany and Spain are among other main beef suppliers.

Niall Browne, chief executive of Dawn Meats, said the 40,000 sq ft facility would be opened officially at the end of June. Enterprise Ireland is financing about 10 per cent of the €14.5 million investment.

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney, who is due to meet the McDonald’s incoming global director next month in the US, said the deal exemplified how Ireland was moving from being an exporter of “high volume, commodity-based food products to becoming a producer of value-added, premium products which are gaining a reputation across the globe”.

McDonald’s, which this month celebrates 35 years in Ireland, employs about 4,000 people in Ireland. Some 69 of its total 81 restaurants here are run by franchise owners.

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16
May 12

Howlin hopeful of securing new EU stimulus package

Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin:  GOVERNMENT ministers made the case for more cash for Ireland in Brussels yesterday amid expectations that European leaders will agree within weeks to release funds for some sort of stimulus package.

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin pushed for Ireland to get more money from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and from the EU‘s structural funds during meetings with the EIB yesterday.

Mr Howlin also met officials from the EU’s Irish bailout team and argued that half the money from the €3bn due to be raised from the sale of semi-state assets should be used “directly” for jobs projects. He wants the rest set aside in a “support account” to make it easier for Ireland to get private companies to co-invest in EIB projects.

The Government has pledged to privatise assets but has yet to raise a cent from sales. Mr Howlin said the EC/ECB/IMF troika hadn’t “signed off on” the plans to use more of the privatisation proceeds to support job creation, but said the Government had “very clear understandings” of support.

The efforts came as European policymakers rushed to embrace the “growth agenda” advocated first by France’s new president Francois Hollande and more recently by ECB chief Mario Draghi and Commission boss Jose Manuel Barroso.

As well as using EIB money to start additional projects, the Government is also hoping the EIB will “take over” some of the funding of the existing €17bn of Ireland’s capital programme, a measure that Mr Howlin said would improve Ireland’s “debt sustainability”.

The key to this is ensuring that much of the EIB loans are not added to the national debt.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan, who was also in Brussels yesterday, said the ‘off-balance sheet’ hope was “realistic”.

Mr Howlin and his officials also argued that tens of billions of unspent EU structural fund cash should be allocated by “competition” in a way that would favour countries with a good track record of using the funding such as Ireland.

“We made good progress on all fronts,” Mr Howlin told reporters. He expected the first funding to be granted later this year, for projects that could also be started later this year.

Both ministers declined to say how much funding they had sought, but Mr Howlin said they were hoping to restart “billions of euro” worth of projects while Mr Noonan said he’d “take whatever we can get” as long as it was not included in the national debt.

The ministers also declined to detail particular projects they had in mind. Mr Howlin said investment would go to projects such as schools, roads and primary healthcare centres that “feed into economic growth and have an immediate impact in terms of employment”.

It is understood that a “wish list” was submitted to EC and EIB officials.

A meeting of EU leaders next week may agree to increase the EIB’s own capital by €10bn after the EIB’s boss yesterday joined Mr Barroso in calling for a capital increase.

That increase would cost Ireland an extra €57m (as its share of the investment) but would make it easier for Ireland to get more EIB support.

Projects at the EIB are decided on a case-by-case basis. The EC may decide on the allocation of structural funds over the summer.

Mr Howlin also insisted that the Greek crisis would not derail the Government’s privatisation plans. “There is significant market interest,” adding that the first asset would be brought to market next year and would most likely be Bord Gais Energy.

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10
May 12

Varadkar gives ‘wings’ to Shannon Airport

SHANNON Airport’s separation from the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA), has received a wide welcome locally.
On this Wednesday, Minister Leo Varadkar confirmed plans for the restructuring of enterprise support agencies in the Shannon region to form a new entity with a commercial mandate in public ownership. It is to be free of net debt.
A drive to develop a world-class aviation industry in Shannon will get underway, accompanied by a restructuring of tourism and enterprise support agencies.
Shannon is to have a clear mandate to develop the aviation sector and to explore other opportunities for the IDA and Enterprise Ireland to further prospective investments in the region.

“We want to recapture the pioneering spirit of the people who gave us the airport and the Shannon Free Zone concept, so that we can provide exciting and innovative opportunities which benefit business, tourism, and job creation in the region, and across the country,” said the minister.
Mayor Jim Long is pleased that Shannon is to become an independent airport.
“We should sit down with the tour operators and  tackle this with the same verve and enthusiasm as the leaders in Shannon had when they were setting up the Shannon Industrial Estate”.
However, a spokesperson for Shannon Development warned the move creates implications for their economic development operations.
“We will work closely with the various government departments to get clarification for staff and clients around the decision”.
Minister Jan O’Sullivan said that while  responsibility for job creation and tourism support will transfer to the IDA, Enterprise Ireland and Failte Ireland, they must not impact negatively on  the Mid West”.
Former member of the Shannon airport Authority, Tadhg Kearney, expressed  reservations about the transfer of Shannon from the DAA becoming a reality.
“This is a statement of principle but flesh has to be put on the skeleton – no new board for the airport has yet been set up”.
Deputy Kieran O’Donnell says there is now a a clear focus on developing the full potential of the aviation industry in Shannon.
Meanwhile, Ryanair has criticised the Government’s failure to sell Shannon Airport to the private sector, who, they claim, would invest in and grow the airport for the benefit of the mid-west region.
“Transferring Shannon from one failed semi-state, the DAA, to another, SFADCO, means that there will be no real change or reform nor radical cost reduction or efficiencies, but rather lots of continuing political interference and bureaucratic mismanagement”.

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9
May 12

Economy set to grow again as consumer sentiment rises

THE economy is set to grow again this year, business leaders have forecast.

Ibec, which represents employers, said the cheaper cost of living and the drop in the value of the euro was helping Ireland.

As a result, the economy would continue to expand but only slightly, according to Fergal O’Brien, Ibec chief economist.

“Following a return to economic growth in 2011 for the first time in four years, the economy will grow by 1% this year,” he said.

“International trading conditions remain difficult, but exporters continue to benefit from competitiveness improvements and the weaker euro has helped exports to non-eurozone countries.”

Mr O’Brien said businesses would spend 10pc more this year on new equipment and machinery than last year.

This was down to Ireland’s strong export performance as well as new investment from overseas.

“The jobs outlook has also improved over recent months and the export recovery has meant that job creation has exceeded job losses for the first time since 2007,” added Mr O’Brien, in Ibec’s latest economic outlook report.

Meanwhile, consumer sentiment rose for the fourth month in a row in April.

The KBC Bank Ireland/ESRI consumer sentiment index rose to 62.5 in April from 60.6 in March as consumers were less nervous about their economic prospects.

The April gain marked the first time there has been a sequence of four monthly gains in a row since January 2007.

”We remain a considerable distance from conditions in which a ”feel good factor” might emerge but, in a still very uncertain world, a continuing easing in nervousness among Irish consumers is probably about as much as could reasonably be expected and should begin to underpin domestic spending,” said Austin Hughes, chief economist at KBC.

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