Ireland’s western coastline is a spectacular landscape of splintered rock and weathered cliff faces, a coastline that for millennia has borne the brunt of the abundant energy which has rolled across the North Atlantic Ocean to converge on Irish shores. This abundant natural resource, combined with proximity to European markets and a committed policy-backed drive, mean Ireland has become a hub of activity and development for the ocean energy industry.

Strategy for development

The Ocean Renewable Energy Development Plan, published in February 2014, sets out the Irish Government’s strategy for development of an indigenous offshore renewables industry; promoting job growth, economic development, and increased energy security in an environmentally sustainable manner. High level ambitions are supported by a robust governance structure, which is critical for effectively achieving the goals set out in the strategy.

Working together Ocean Energy Ireland portal

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has worked with fellow industry partners to fund and develop an impressive testing infrastructure to facilitate the early stage development of ocean energy devices. 2015 saw the completion of the Beaufort Building in Cork, which houses the state-of-the-art Lir National Ocean Test Facility, an internationally recognised centre of excellence for the testing of early ocean energy concepts using various simulation facilities.

MaREI Centre

The Beaufort Building also accommodates the MaREI Centre, a team of dedicated researchers with over 30 years’ relevant expertise who provide technical support for developers using the testing facility. The Galway Bay Marine and Renewable Energy Test Site provides ideal quarter-scaled, real-sea conditions to developers wishing to test more advanced prototypes in a representative environment. The SeaPower


The portal, designed by SEAI and the Marine Institute with input from numerous other groups, is a sign-post to the supports available in Ireland for the development of the marine renewable energy sector. There is information on marine data, maps, tools, funding and information relevant to renewable energy site assessment, development and management. The Marine Renewable Energy Atlas, an interactive GIS map of Ireland and its waters, was updated last year to include the most relevant, high quality and downloadable ocean energy data available. A new inventory for environmental planning was added to help developers researching testing and deployment in Ireland. The updated Ocean Energy Supply Chain Database was published in the summer, and now features 120 businesses searchable by either energy type (wind, wave or tidal), or business type (business support services, consultancy services, device developers etc.).

device, pictured, was successfully deployed at the site in November 2016 and continues to collect data.

Atlantic Marine Energy Renewable Test Site

The Atlantic Marine Energy Renewable Test Site is a full-scale test site currently being developed by SEAI near Belmullet, Co. Mayo. Wave conditions at this site are particularly energetic, with an annual average wave power resource of 70 kW/m, while waves of up to 23m have been recorded by buoys on the site. The foreshore licence for the facility was awarded in 2015 and Mayo County Council are currently upgrading port facilities in the area, ensuring ease of access for both local fishermen and developers. Work on the onshore substation is expected to commence in 2017. In addition to high quality infrastructure, high quality information and data is provided to those interested in Ireland’s ocean energy industry via the Ocean Energy Ireland portal.

Environmental guidance documents

2016 also saw two draft environmental guidance documents for the offshore renewable energy industry released for public consultation. These documents, one on the preparation of both Environmental and Natura Impact Statements for offshore renewable energy projects, and the other on Marine Baseline Assessments and Monitoring Activities, will ensure there is clear guidance for developers on statements, data, and monitoring necessary for deploying in Ireland’s oceans. This will ensure best practice is adopted in order to develop the industry in an environmentally friendly manner.

Ocean Energy Prototype Development fund

SEAI’s Ocean Energy Prototype Development fund supports the research, development, testing and deployment of ocean energy devices. To date, a total 85 projects have now been awarded a combined sum of over €13 million. Last year saw an increase in the number of projects awarded grants on the previous year, and this trend is expected to continue in 2017.

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