Wave and tidal energy research focus of new €200 million laboratory

Maritime research cluster in Cork harbour

The €15 million Beaufort laboratory will house a national ocean energy test facility

The €15 million Beaufort laboratory will house a national ocean energy test facility

Thu, Jul 11, 2013, 00:15


Taoiseach Enda Kenny is due to turn the sod today on an international “centre of excellence” for maritime research in Cork harbour.

The €15 million Beaufort laboratory will house a national ocean energy test facility and what may be the world’s largest concentration of wave and tidal energy researchers.

Named after the Irish hydrographer who devised the wind force scale, Rear Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort, the laboratory and research centre will generate some 200 jobs during construction and up to 60 extra permanent posts thereafter – bringing the total research staff to between 135 and 150.

University College Cork ocean energy pioneer Dr Tony Lewis will oversee the centre, which aims to become a global leader and will draw from a maritime research “cluster” based in the Ringaskiddy area of Cork harbour.

This includes the existing Sustainable Energy Research Group, the Hydraulics & Maritime Research Centre and the Coastal and Marine Research Centre.

It will be central to the Irish Maritime and Energy Resource Cluster in Cork, which combines the expertise of the National Maritime College, UCC, Cork Institute of Technology and the Naval Service.

The building will house the national ocean test facility as well as dedicated laboratories, “incubation suites” for industry and accommodation for 135 researchers. Target date for completion is next July.

The laboratory was one of seven UCC projects approved for some €25 million in funding by Science Foundation Ireland. The main backers are the Higher Education Authority PRTLI5 programme, the Department of Energy and Natural Resources, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, Bord Gáis Energy and the Glucksman Foundation, with land released by the Industrial Development Agency.

A 2010 SQW consultancy study predicted that a fully developed ocean energy sector here could be worth €9 billion .

However, a recent Marine Renewables Industry Association study said the technology challenges faced by ocean energy, particularly in the wave field, coupled with the slow pace of policy development and implementation, make these projections “unlikely”.