ESBI seeks foreshore licences to explore wave energy sites in west

ESB International (ESBI) has applied for foreshore licences to explore wave energy sites off the west coast which could power up 2,500 homes every year.

The application to the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government is seen as the first step towards developing a five megawatt wave energy project off the west coast.

ESBI aims to conduct marine surveys and resource measurements at Killard Point in Clare and the Achill area in Mayo in a project called WestWave.

If successful, the project will generate an initial five megawatts of electricity from wave energy by 2015 — enough to power 2,500 homes every year.

The foreshore licences will allow ESBI to deploy wave measurement buoys for a minimum period of one year to assess the wave climate at each site. The company will also undertake hydrographic surveys at each site to assess the sea-bed conditions.

The proposed works will provide baseline data on wave and current resources at each site, as well as determining design and installation methodologies and informing route selection for cables associated with a wave energy project.

The survey work will also provide information for environmental studies of the area. These activities will take place over a one to two year period following receipt of the licences.

The findings will be used to identify the best location for the WestWave project. The sites under consideration are Killard point, the Achill area in Mayo and the Atlantic Marine Energy Test Site in Belmullet in Mayo.

ESBI has said it will liaise fully with all the relevant statutory bodies as part of the application process.

The project will seek funding under the EU NER300 programme and from domestic grant sources. It will also seek support under the Republic of Ireland REFIT tariff for wave energy.

The project is in line with ESB’s strategy to develop 150MW of electricity from ocean energy by 2020 and the Government’s strategy to generate 500MW from ocean energy.

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