An Irish-designed device to generate electricity from ocean wave power is another step closer to breaking into the massive potential on offer in the ocean energy market.
Irish company, Sea Power Ltd., has concluded the winter survivability testing programme of their prototype wave energy device at the Galway Bay Marine and Renewable Energy Test Site proving the concept of electricity generation from wave power at the test site. In the coming week the device will be removed from the test site and brought back into Galway Docks.
This is a significant advance for the eight-year project, which has been a collaboration between Sea Power Ltd., SmartBay Ireland, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and the Marine Institute. Following successful testing at small scale, the company, progressed to quarter scale testing in open sea conditions in Galway Bay for the first time last October.
Wave energy devices, such as the Seapower Platform, will ultimately harness the extraordinary power of the waves off Ireland's coast. The success of Sea Power at sea has brought Ireland closer to sharing in the future growth, job and low-carbon rewards that ocean energy can bring to coastal communities in the West of Ireland.
Commenting on behalf of SEAI Declan Meally, Head of Emerging Sectors said: "It's very encouraging to see innovative Irish ocean energy technologies progressing through the country's testing facilities. Companies such as Sea Power Ltd could provide the solution for unlocking the huge renewable energy potential that our oceans can provide. While progress will take some years yet before commercial solutions are available, it is through testing and development that Ireland is showing leadership in this sector."
The National Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan (OREDP) approved by Government in 2014 outlines the vision and goals for development of the offshore renewable energy sector in Ireland. This identified a potential of up to 50,000 jobs generated in Ireland by 2050. Many of these could be realised along the west coast in future years.
Peter Heffernan, Marine Institute CEO said: "Sea Power Ltd is a great example of an indigenous Irish company developing novel technology to harness the power of the ocean. Having brought their device through various small scale prototypes, it is exciting to see this new technology successfully testing over the winter months in the sea at quarter scale."
SEAI and the Marine Institute are working together to develop Ireland's ocean energy testing infrastructure which includes tank testing facilities at Lir National Ocean Test Facility in Cork, the consented quarter scale test site in Galway Bay and the planned full scale Atlantic Marine Energy Test Site off the Mayo coast.
The Galway Bay Marine and Renewable Energy Test site has been in operation since 2006 and is currently licensed to operate until 19th March 2017. In line with the Government's Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan, the Marine Institute applied in April 2016 for a new foreshore lease to allow testing of a wider range of marine renewable energy devices to provide researchers and those involved in developing ocean energy devices with a world class permitted area in which to safely test and demonstrate quarter-scale prototype ocean energy converters and related technologies. No determination on this application has been received from the licensing authority to date.
The Seapower Platform will be removed from the test site by the 19th March and no further testing will be completed under the current lease. A decommissioning plan for the cessation of current test site activity has been agreed with the licensing authority, details of which are available on www.marine.ie. The Marine Institute has committed to ongoing monitoring of the marine environment within the test site area up to September 2017 to ensure no adverse impacts arise from the cessation of testing activities.