‘Together We Are Stronger’ was the message at the launch of the Ren Net project in An Grianan Hotel, Burt, Co. Donegal.

This network of businesses and individuals are interested in the green economy and the renewable energy sector in the North West region, which includes the council areas of Donegal, Derry, Strabane, Limavady and Magherafelt.

Donegal County Council is the lead implementing council of the Ren Net project, funded through the INTERREG IVA Programme and is being delivered under the auspices of the North West Region Cross Border Group.  Mayor of Donegal Cllr. Frank Mc Brearty said that supporting small businesses is key to the economic regeneration and wellbeing of the region.

“By working together in networks such as Ren-Net, businesses and individuals have shown their commitment to supporting each other and collaborating to find new business opportunities to create jobs, increase profits and result in sustainable and viable businesses in the region,” he added.  The potential of the renewable energy sector was outlined at the launch and the renewable heat sector described as the ‘forgotten sector’.  It was noted that 40 per cent of energy consumed in Ireland is consumed in heat.  The Irish Government has set a target for 2020 that 20 per cent of heat energy in Ireland will be generated from renewables and this in itself presents an opportunity for local businesses.

Considerable Interest

The project includes local networks in each of the five council areas involved in the project and one regional network, and has generated a considerable level of interest from businesses and individuals in the region.  Interested companies specialise in a range of disciplines such as, energy efficiency, lighting and insulation, architecture, engineering, building, plumbing, electricians etc.  Recruitment to the network is ongoing.  Small businesses will have an opportunity create a critical mass that will allow them to ‘punch above their weight’ in terms of influencing policy, in strengthening their bargaining power, in keeping abreast of new technologies and in engaging in joint ventures that will ultimately increase the viability and profits for small businesses in this region.