ESB seeks licences for wave energy plan


ESB INTERNATIONAL (ESBI) is seeking foreshore licences to develop a five megawatt wave energy project off the west coast.

The licence applications to the Department of the Environment aim to allow the company to conduct marine surveys and measurements for its WestWave project at Killard Point, Co Clare, and Achill, Co Mayo.

ESBI says the project is part of the ESB’s strategy to develop 150MW of electricity from the ocean by 2020, and the Government’s plan to generate 500MW from ocean energy in the same period.

WestWave is a collaboration between ESBI and a number of wave energy technology partners, with a target date of 2015 for generation of initial power from the Atlantic. ESBI is already involved with Sustainable Energy Ireland in the State’s marine energy test site in Belmullet, Co Mayo.

It says the two new sites were identified following a “detailed selection process based on mapping studies, site testing, environmental considerations and stakeholder feedback”.

If foreshore licensing is approved, wave measurement buoys will be deployed at each location for at least a year and hydrographic surveys will be conducted.

WestWave intends to seek funding under the EU’s New Entrants Reserve (NER) 300 programme for low carbon technologies, and from domestic grant sources.

It will also seek support under the Refit tariff for wave energy.

ESBI says it will liaise fully with all relevant statutory bodies, including Mayo and Clare county councils, as part of the licence application and discussions have already taken place.

Seven European universities and research centres are already signed up to collect data from a new buoy deployed this month at the Marine Institute’s ocean energy test site in Galway Bay.

Cork company Ocean Energy Ltd is providing the platform for the latest research, which is being co-ordinated by University College Cork’s hydraulics and maritime research centre .

The project has secured €4.5 million in EU funding, approved by EU commissioner for research and innovation Máire Geoghegan-Quinn. The project’s partners are based in Ireland, Portugal, Britain, Spain, Germany Denmark and Italy.

Data generated from the buoy over the next three months will be used to verify the system’s performance, according to UCC centre director and project co-ordinator Dr Tony Lewis.