Ocean energy developer Wavebob set to go under

Firm to tell investors it has run out of money

Wavebob was set up in 1999 to develop a commercial system for converting wave energy into electricity. Photograph: Joe O'Shaughnessy

Wavebob was set up in 1999 to develop a commercial system for converting wave energy into electricity. Photograph: Joe O'Shaughnessy

 


Ocean energy developer Wavebob looks set to be wound up next week when its board will tell investors, including State-owned Bord Gáis, that the company has run out of money.

Wavebob, set up in 1999 to develop a commercial system for converting wave energy into electricity, will hold shareholders’ and creditors’ meetings next week to place the company in liquidation.

The company has spent about €10 million to date, much of it raised from investors, including State-owned utility Bord Gáis, which put €1.8 million into Wavebob in 2010.

Chairman Padraig Berry confirmed yesterday that the board has concluded that the company cannot continue to trade. “Putting it simply, we have run out of money,” he said.

Mr Berry explained that the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) had refused a grant requested by the company, effectively spelling the end of the business. He explained that the grant was meant to act as bridging finance until the company could raise cash from investors in the middle of this year.

According to recent reports, Wavebob had been hoping to raise €10 million in fresh investment. Wavebob had been testing its systems off the west coast, was involved in development projects in Portugal and worked on a joint venture with Swedish company Vattenfall.

It had received grants from Enterprise Ireland, SEAI, the EU and even the US department of energy.

Developing a system for reliably and cheaply converting ocean energy into electricity was regarded as something of a holy grail by the clean tech industry, but Mr Berry agreed that it has proved elusive.

He explained that the industry is at least 10 years away from cracking a system that will deliver electricity at an affordable price for consumers and businesses from ocean energy.

However, he added that he believed it could deliver in the longer term, and that Wavebob’s approach could be made to work commercially.