Ocean says it has finished trials on power-generating prototype


OCEAN ENERGY said yesterday it had successfully concluded 2½ years of testing on a system for generating electricity from wave power.

The Cork-based firm has been testing a prototype of the system that it has developed in an area off the Galway coast.

The company said the successful completion of the trials meant that it could proceed with the next stage of developing its system commercially.

Each individual unit can produce up to two megawatts (MW) of electricity.

Ocean Energy estimates that this is enough to provide power to 1,400 homes for a year.

The 28-tonne, quarter-scale test device was initially launched for sea trials in November 2006, and has been tested on the Government test site, close to Spiddal, in Galway Bay, since December 2006.

The system has been generating electricity, which has been fed into the national grid from a connection point close to the test bed.

Chief executive John McCarthy said yesterday that the company believes it is the first in the world to have successfully concluded tests over such a period of time.

Mr McCarthy added that the device endured the worst that the Atlantic could throw at it.

While on station it was hit by a scale wave of 32.8m, which is calculated to come along only once in 40 years.

Mr McCarthy believes that if it is developed successfully the technology could create up to 20,000 jobs in this country and has the potential to boost export earnings.

The company also says that it could save the Government up to €1 billion a year through a reduction in carbon emissions.

“As a country we are not alone in spotting the economic opportunity.

“In July the US government announced $30 million of funding for the ocean energy sector, and also in July the UK government has announced further funding of £60 million to expedite the development of its ocean energy potential,” said Mr McCarthy.

Ocean Energy is one of a number of Irish and Irish-linked firms working on the development of this technology.

The others include Wavebob, which has also been testing equipment off the west coast, and Aquamarine Power, which has been working on developing a system in Scotland.