Warning over wave energy quota


GOVERNMENT targets on wave energy provision will be “missed” unless significant changes are made to the offshore licensing and lease system, according to the new national body representing wave and tide energy.

A white paper prepared by the Marine Renewables Industry Association (MRIA) says changes to the legislative system would give a fillip to the sector and to Ireland’s commitments on climate change. The association says a strategic environmental assessment of Irish waters should not “hinder” development of marine renewables.

The assessment is required under EU commitments, and must be completed by 2010. However, there are “numerous precedents” in other EU states that allowed wind and wave energy to develop before such national assessments were finished, the paper says.

It says that if Ireland is not to lose out to competitors, it must bring in a licensing and lease procedure allowing development of early stage prototype and early commercial demonstration projects.

Ireland’s offshore renewable energy resources have “significant development potential”, the paper says, given that Ireland has the largest extent of marine territory in the European Union, with over 652,000sq km – over 10 times the land area, and a seabed 14 times the European average.

The Marine Institute also predicted four years ago that the State could be a world leader in energy provision from wave and tide. The northeast Atlantic and the Southern Ocean are identified as the global “bands” with best wave energy potential, giving Ireland and Scotland a competitive advantage. Wave energy could generate over 75 per cent of the State’s electricity demand, based on 2006 figures, and the Government’s 2007 white paper on energy included targets of 75 megawatts (MW) generated from ocean energy by 2012, and 500MW by 2020.

In January 2008, the Minister for Energy announced over €26 million for the sector in grants and supports. There has been frustration at delays in rolling this out.