Ireland has an objective of generating 40% of electricity requirements from renewable sources by 2020. In the case of Ocean Energy (Wave and Tidal), there is a specific target of generating 500MW by 2020 in the Republic.
The Ocean Energy Development Unit (OEDU) was set up by SEAI and the Irish government in 2008 with the objective of making Ireland a world leader in supplying wave and tidal energy technologies internationally and in generating electricity from the abundant waves and tides off our surrounding coastlines.
Ireland has a first-rate ocean energy research base. It is acknowledged that Ireland has some centres of excellence with world class levels of expertise in project design, testing and mooring design. This academic and commercial base represents a sound stage upon which to develop a new ocean energy industry in Ireland.
SEAI, through the OEDU, is responsible for the development of the Atlantic Marine Energy Test Site (AMETS) in Belmullet.
What is Ocean Energy?
Ocean energy includes, wave, tidal and offshore wind power:
- Wave power refers to the extraction of energy, usually in the form of electricity from the up and down motion of waves.
- Tidal power is the generation of electricity from the horizontal motion of tidal currents in the sea.
- Offshore wind power includes wind turbines which are either floating structures or are attached to the sea-bed
The proposed Atlantic Marine Energy Test Site (AMETS) in Belmullet will be used for testing wave energy converters.
Ocean Energy Research Centres in Ireland
- Hydraulics and Maritime Research Centre – University College Cork
- Wave Energy Research Team, Mobile & Marine Robotics Research Centre – University ofLimerick
- Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences – National University of Ireland, Galway
- Department of Electronic Engineering – National University of Ireland, Maynooth
- School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering – Queens University of Belfast
The Belmullet Wave Energy Test Site
The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland has developed the Atlantic Marine Energy Test Site (AMETS), focusing on wave energy and located off Annagh Head, west of Belmullet in County Mayo.
The purpose of the 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 open ocean conditions. It is proposed for the site to operate for up to 15 years with devices on site intermittently throughout the year.
Purpose of the Site
To date ocean energy devices have been tested at small scale in the Hydraulic and Maritime Research Centre in Cork and at quarter scale in an existing test facility at Galway Bay. The purpose of the full scale test site is to assess the performance of the wave energy machines under development in generating electricity and their survivability in open ocean conditions.
There have only been a handful of full scale wave energy devices tested in the world. The development of a test site in Belmullet will be a major international success for Ireland. The proposed test site will operate for up to 15 years and will provide two separate test locations at various depths of water depending on the specific devices being tested:
- Mid-water 50m water depth
- Deep-water 100m water depth
Belmullet was selected as the most suitable of seven candidate sites along the west coast principally due to:
- Deep water with sandy seabed close to shore
- Quality of the wave climate
- Suitable grid for electrical connection
- Good shore infrastructure e.g. piers, roads, services