Project makes waves with €20m

A project designed to generate energy from the waves off the west coast of Ireland was awarded almost €20m by the European Commission to scale up its plans.

The money comes from a fund worth up to €4bn from the sale of carbon emission licences. Just over €1.2bn of this was awarded to 23 innovative renewable energy projects in 16 EU countries.

This is the first time the fund has been used and was described by Connie Hedegaard, the climate action commissioner, as a “Robin Hood mechanism that makes polluters pay for large-scale demonstration of new low-carbon technologies”.

She estimated that the EU funds would leverage a further €2bn of private investment and help keep the EU as a frontrunner on renewables and help create jobs here and now.

The WestWave project was one of two submitted by Ireland. It is a collaborative project featuring contributions from a number of organisations and is run on a day-to-day basis by the ESB’s ocean energy team.

They aim to install and operate wave energy converters capable of generating five megawatts of clean electricity by 2015 from a tiny fraction of the massive power hitting the west coast.

According to WestWave, this wave farm will demonstrate Ireland’s ability to construct, deploy, and operate wave energy converters. It will also pave the way for commercial projects and is the third and final step in the Government’s ocean energy strategy.

The next step is to build commercial projects designed to create 500MW of wave energy by 2020.

Six wave energy capture devices will be placed at a depth of 15m and a prototype has already been tested at the European Marine Energy Centre at the Orkney Islands in Scotland.

The 23 projects, selected with the help of the European Investment Fund, cover a wide range of renewable technologies.

Once up and running, the projects are expected to increase annual renewable energy production in Europe by some 10 TWh — the amount of energy used by more than 1m cars in a year.

The aim is also to demonstrate technologies that will help scale-up production from renewable sources across the EU.

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