SEAI outlines details to develop Ireland’s ocean energy potential
28th April 2010
~ Consultation Day for Belmullet Wave Energy Test Site ~
The Ocean Energy Development Unit (OEDU) of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has today, (28th April 2010) outlined plans to develop a national wave energy test site off Annagh Head, west of Belmullet, Co. Mayo. A full scale wave energy test site, if developed, will allow for the testing and demonstrating of new wave energy technologies and determine the potential for Ireland's ocean resources to generate electricity. SEAI is working with the Marine Institute and ESBI as project partners for the proposed research site.
Plans were unveiled at an information day at the civic offices in Belmullet outlining details of the proposed project and plans for development. The purpose of the national wave energy test site at Belmullet is to provide a location for the temporary mooring and deployment of wave energy machines so that their performance in generating electricity and their survivability can be tested and demonstrated in real open ocean conditions. It is proposed for the site to operate for up to 15 years.
Commenting, Professor Owen Lewis, Chief Executive, SEAI, noted: "The development of a test site in Belmullet provides us with a significant strategic opportunity. By investing in and developing a major research facility, we can properly test and pioneer the feasibility of this technology in Ireland. For the first time, we will have a national test site which will allow us to determine the potential of ocean energy as a future source of renewable power, both for Ireland and for export to Europe."
"While only a small number of jobs will be created in the short term, there is a real potential for future jobs and investment through the development of an ocean energy industry, which will be recognised globally. A national wave energy test site is an important first step in this process, and we are committed to working closely with the local community in Belmullet on the development of these plans."
The site at Annagh Head was chosen as a result of the deep water with sandy sea bed close to the shore, the quality of the wave climate and good shore infrastructure as well as proximity to extensive maritime infrastructure at Killybegs. There will be three test areas; a near shore area half a mile from land, a coastal area two miles from land and a deep water test area seven miles from land.
The OEDU is currently preparing an environmental study which will determine the effects of the test site and its construction on local people, marine and terrestrial wildlife and the environment. The results of the study will form part of an Environmental Impact Statement which will accompany an application to the Department of the Environment for a Foreshore License. An application for planning permission will be lodged with Mayo County Council by the end of 2010. If a favourable decision is issued in each case, it is anticipated that the site will be ready for testing the first wave energy machine in 2012.
The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has a mission to play a leading role in transforming Ireland into a society based on sustainable energy structures, technologies and practices. The Authority is financed by Ireland's EU Structural Funds Programme co-funded by the Irish Government and the European Union
The SEAI Ocean Energy Development Unit (OEDU) has been established to implement the Government's policy decision to accelerate the development of Ocean Energy (wave and tidal) in Ireland. Its objectives include:
- The creation, in Ireland, of a centre of excellence in ocean energy technology and the stimulation of a world-class industry cluster.
- The initial connection of 500MW of ocean energy by 2020 (Programme for Government and White Paper) as a step towards the larger-scale harnessing of our marine renewable energy resources.
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