Ireland could become a world leader in harnessing energy from the sea securing its power supply in the process, it was claimed today.
Marine Minister Noel Dempsey launched an Ocean Energy Strategy which has the potential to place Ireland in a more secure position through generating electricity from wave power.
“Ireland clearly has one of the best potential ocean energy resources in Europe,” Mr Dempsey said.
The country has one of the most energetic wave climates in the world due to its position on the western edge of Europe facing the Atlantic Ocean.
The strategy, proposed by the Marine Institute and Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI), found the domestic market for ocean energy in Ireland could be worth millions of euro to the economy.
As well as benefiting from reductions in carbon dioxides outputs, it is estimated Irish developers could boost exports by securing 20% of the European export market for ocean energy.
Ireland is heavily exposed to fluctuations in the energy supply market as the country is reliant on imports for 89% of its energy needs.
Under the strategy, it is believed Ireland could become more secure in its energy supply and reduce carbon outputs.
Mr Dempsey confirmed a 37-hectare testing site had been developed in Galway Bay to ensure devices for harnessing energy can be examined.
The four-phase strategy proposes developing scale model prototypes for generating before the most successful devices are constructed in commercial areas off the coast.
Under the strategy, the partners have gathered information on the strength of waves around the coast.
Tests on the first device – the ’Wavebob’ – have begun at the specially licensed test site off Spiddal in Co Galway.
“Recent advances in ocean energy technology represent an excellent example of the type of innovations that are arising from Irish marine R&D investment,” Dr Peter Heffernan, chief executive of the Marine Institute, said.
“The time has come for Ireland to really push such areas of innovation and we are delighted with the financial support this strategy will provide for the ongoing attempts at cracking the technological solutions required to successfully harness ocean energy for all our benefits.”
On top of funds given to the industry for research and development, around €3.8m in capital funds will be required to complete the first phase of the strategy to create generating systems.