West coast wave energy project receives €19.8 million EU Commission boost

A renewable energy project on the west coast of Ireland, focused on harnessing wave power, has been awarded €19.8 million by the EU Commission.

The funding will go to the WestWave project which plans to demonstrate the potential of scaling up wave energy. It is understood that six wave energy capture devices will be placed along the west coast at a depth of 15 metres. A prototype has already been tested at the European Marien Energy Centre (EMEC ) on the Orkney Islands in Scotland.

According to WestWave the project is a collaboration “between the major players in the Irish wave energy development sector, who share the common goal of putting Ireland at the forefront of ocean energy globally. The project brings technology developers, electricity providers, and Government bodies together to demonstrate how wave farms can be built and operated in Ireland.”

“WestWave aims to install and operate wave energy converters capable of generating 5MW of clean electricity by 2015, while harvesting only a tiny fraction of the massive power hitting the west coast of Ireland. By building a wave farm of 5MW, the project will demonstrate Ireland’s ability to construct, deploy, and operate wave energy converters. It will also pave the way for commercial projects, in terms of consenting procedures, such as foreshore licensing, permitting electrical grid access, and local infrastructure.”

In total the Commission awarded more than €1.2 billion in funding to 23 highly innovative renewable energy demonstration projects under the first call for proposals for the NER300 funding programme. Projects will be co-financed with revenues obtained from the sale of 200 million emission allowances from the new entrants' reserve (NER ) of the EU Emissions Trading System. The projects cover a wide range of renewable technologies - bioenergy (including advanced biofuels ), concentrated solar power, geothermal power, wind, ocean energy, and distributed renewable management (smart grids ).

According to the EU Commission these projects, once up and running, will collectively increase annual renewable energy production in Europe and will also lead to several thousands of full-time workers being employed during the construction phase (over the next three to four years ). Once these projects are operational, some 1,000 full-time workers will be engaged for the next 15 to 20 years to keep the installations running.

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