Kenny opens ‘world class’ maritime facility in Cork

UCC Beaufort building in Ringaskiddy will be dedicated to marine renewable energy

Enda Kenny called the UCC Beaufort building a “vessel of scientific discovery for our seas”. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Enda Kenny called the UCC Beaufort building a “vessel of scientific discovery for our seas”. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

A state-of-the-art maritime facility which will power the “blue economy” was opened in Ringaskiddy, Co Cork on Saturday by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

The 4,700m-squared five-storey Beaufort building with state-of-the-art wave simulators, test tanks, workshops and offices provides Ireland with world-class infrastructure for renewable energy and maritime research.

Named after the Irish hydrographer and globally adopted Beaufort wind force scale creator, Rear Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort, the Beaufort building will house the SFI MaREI Centre (Marine Renewable Energy Ireland) and the LIR National Ocean Test Facility.

Speaking at the official opening, Mr Kenny said: “Marine research and development is a part of this Government’s plan to rebuild a sustainable enterprise-based economy. Our seas will increasingly support more jobs, enterprise and research.

“The UCC Beaufort building is a vessel of scientific discovery for our seas. Its world-class facilities will attract world-class researchers and new entrepreneurial endeavours in the maritime and energy sectors.

“The spirit of collaboration between academia, private enterprise and the Irish Naval Service in Irish maritime research is a model for public-private partnerships not only in Ireland, but globally.”

Benefit of society

UCC president Dr Michael Murphy said excellence in science and in its exploitation for the benefit of society requires excellent infrastructure.

“For decades, UCC has been a global leader in marine energy research. The Beaufort building now provides the world-class infrastructure necessary to exploit that science to deliver technologies for society.

“With its wonderful design and state-of-the-art equipment, the building will host academic and industry researchers working in partnership to grow our marine economy.”

Led by Prof Conchúr Ó Brádaigh, director of MaREI, the centre will cater for 135 researchers, industry partners and support staff, dedicated to solving the challenges related to marine renewable energy.

The multidisciplinary centre has already secured €30 million in funding through Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and contracts with industry partners comprising multinationals and SMEs.

The MaREI centre will form a critical piece in the Ireland Maritime Energy Research Cluster (IMERC) environment, which includes the National Maritime College of Ireland, Cork Institute of Technology and the Irish Defence Forces.

IMERC

Having recently announced more than 90 new jobs as a result of foreign direct investment, IMERC has been very successful in attracting international companies in the area of ocean energy and maritime research as well as driving indigenous entrepreneurship in the maritime sector.

The wave tanks in the Beaufort building are capable of producing waves up to 1.2m high, which are equivalent to the 30m-plus waves experienced in extreme conditions off the west coast of Ireland and in the Atlantic, and will be used extensively by the National Ocean Test Facility.

The ambitious development was led by UCC Capital Projects Officer Niall McAuliffe and employed more than 200 people on site.

The Beaufort building is open to the public this weekend as part of the national maritime festival, SeaFest, taking place in Cork Harbour.