The roll out of the National Broadband Plan is now as critical as rural electrification was in the 1960s, according to Communications, Climate Action and Environment Minister Denis Naughten. Naughten expects to begin the process of providing every home in the country with high speed broadband in the coming weeks, he announced at the launch of Engineers Ireland’s State of Ireland 2016, a report on the state of Ireland’s infrastructure. As part of the report Engineers Ireland has urged the Government to award the National Broadband Plan intervention to a contractor and confirm the deployment schedule nationally in the next twelve months. Engineers Ireland believes that within the next five years Ireland’s national broadband infrastructure should be in the top five of European league tables in terms of availability, uptake and speed. “The report - in addition to providing an excellent overview of the issues affecting the current and future energy infrastructure in Ireland - makes a number of recommendations,” said Minister Naughten. “Many of the recommendations are currently being actioned as matters of policy. My department is developing an implementation plan to deliver the ambitions of the Energy White Paper and has committed to a major review after five years.” State of Ireland 2016 grades Irish infrastructure and the report gives the country’s energy infrastructure a ‘C’ – describing it as inadequately maintained, unable to meet peak demand and requiring significant infrastructure. Naughten spoke of the move to renewables and how better energy efficiency is contributing to Ireland’s economic recovery and sustainable job creation. He touched on the idea of the significant macroeconomic potential of moving towards a low carbon energy system while stressing the importance of proper functioning energy infrastructure. “There is a substantial plus side to the decarbonisation agenda. Ireland’s cutting-edge clean-technology sector is already developing and demonstrating the technological know-how to manage the energy systems of the future. “There will be opportunities for Irish-based companies to be world leaders in the field. Ireland’s R&D reputation in the areas of renewables, energy efficiency and the rate of technologies is fast growing and new business opportunities will continue to emerge. “But all of this is contingent on a proper functioning energy infrastructure. Energy infrastructure is a matter of vital significance not just for me as Minister - and indeed for key people in making it happen - but also for individual citizens. “The provision of appropriate energy infrastructure is necessary for all aspects of our lives – how we live and how we work. We don’t value it until the fortunately rare occasions when something goes wrong – such as an extreme weather event when our infrastructure is subsequently affected. “My eldest son is ten years old and I don’t think I have ever brought him to bed with a candle – something that many of us growing up were well used to when our electricity infrastructure went down. I don’t recall having to do that in the last decade.” ‘State of Ireland 2016’ is the sixth in a series of annual independent reports on the country’s infrastructure. This year, the report focuses primarily on the energy sector, with updates on communications, transport, waste and water. It follows a series of panel discussions with key energy decision-makers across the private and public sector whose expert opinions Engineers Ireland gathered to inform the report. Report link: