Innovation prize for tidal technology firm


TIDAL ENERGY: GREEN ENERGY AWARD:DUBLIN-BASED tidal energy company Openhydro was awarded a prize for best renewable innovation last month in a green energy competition run by the Scottish Enterprise Board.

The company, whose tidal device is based at the European Marine Energy Centre in the Orkney Islands, received the award for being the first to deploy a tidal turbine off the Scottish coast and provide electricity to the power grid.

The award comes as it powers ahead with plans to complete commercial-scale trials of its turbines, with a view to deploying them off the Irish, Scottish and French coasts.

The firm recently acquired a 20 per cent shareholding in Alderney Renewable Energy Ltd, which has a 65-year licence to generate tidal and wave energy in the Channel Islands' territorial waters.

The islands have secured rights to connect a 285MW array of tidal turbines to the French power grid and Openhydro believes there is potential to deploy up to 3,000 turbines, requiring capital investment of more than €3 billion.

The company has also been chosen by French power giant EDF to install up to 10 turbines off the Brittany coast. These will be manufactured at the tidal energy firm's facility in Co Louth and connected to France's power grid from 2011.

Brendan Gilmore, chairman of OpenHydro, said: "Our vision for ocean energy is the development of farms of tidal turbines capable of delivering a significant percentage of European and world energy demand." EDF's chairman and chief executive Pierre Gadonneix added: "This project places EDF and France among world leaders in marine energy and is part of our respective commitments in the fight against global warming."

Ireland's first marine energy test facility is due to come into operation in 2010. A study by the Marine Institute and ESB International recently identified Belmullet in Co Mayo as the most suitable location.

Once the site has been fully surveyed, Sustainable Energy Ireland and the Marine Institute will develop its specifications. Wave and tidal energy companies will then be invited to apply for planning permission and licences to deploy their devices there, according to the Department of Energy.