Within FIRESPOL Irish Partner Southern Regional Assembly (SRA) is working with regional stakeholders to enhance the Regional and Spatial Economic Strategy (RSES) for the Southern Region. The SRA are authors of the RSES for the Southern Region, which sets out a 12-year statutory strategic regional development framework for the Southern Region. Through the RSES the Southern Region has an ambitious vision of becoming one of the most Creative & Innovative, Greenest and Liveable regions in Europe. As part of the implementation process for the RSES the regional planning team will be drafting a Renewable Energy Strategy (RES) for the Southern Region. Looking forward if the Southern Region is to deliver on the regional policy objectives for renewable energy generation and storage set out in the RSES, it will require far greater levels of private investment. Building on outputs and learnings from the FIRESPOL project the Regional Action Plan for the SRA is focused on working with the regional planning team to include specific goals and targets for the use of innovative Financial Instruments in the Renewable Energy Strategy for the Southern Region.

To inform the process of setting these goals and targets the SRA is exploring the option of establishing a ‘Renewable Energy Investment Forum’ for the Southern Region to provide an ongoing mechanism to discuss, explore and make recommendations on the use of innovative financial instruments supporting renewable energy investment in the region. The objective of the forum would be to support and boost investment in renewables in the Southern region through 4 key pillars - “Be Informed; Be Connected; Be Inspired; Be a Leader”.

To initiate the conversation around innovative financial solutions and to advance the establishment of the forum the SRA hosted a webinar in February 2021 on the topic of ‘Renewable Energy Investment in the Southern Region’, the agenda included a selection of case studies from FIRESPOL project partners and stakeholders on innovative financial instruments. The event was opened by keynote speaker Eamon Ryan TD, Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications and was well-attended by key regional stakeholders reflecting the importance and more importantly the willingness to consider all funding options available to address the immense challenges facing us in the fight against climate change. These stakeholders will have a critical role to play in achieving the ambitious regional policy objectives for the development of renewable energy set out in the RSES for the Southern Region, which in turn will be instrumental in achieving National Renewable Energy objectives. This event was intended as a pilot and marked the first step in achieving the goals set out in the action plan, work will continue to explore this concept with relevant stakeholders in line with the development of the Renewable Energy Strategy for the Southern Region.

Written by: Karen Coughlan, Southern Regional Assembly 

Image: Cows at windturbine by Shauna Browne