THE British government has given the go-ahead to the construction of a huge tidal energy project at Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland as well as two projects off Scotland and England.
The UK is tiptoeing forward on efforts to boost a sector that could generate 40pc of Northern Ireland's electricity by 2020. The present rate is 14pc.
The Crown Estate, which administers land and offshore development rights, said the three projects could proceed further with their plans subject to final approval from regional authorities following public consultation.
The latest awards take the total number of UK wave and tidal sites under development or operation to 41.
OpenHydro, a company part-owned by Bord Gais and investment firm One51, has won the rights to build a 100-megawatt tidal energy farm off Torr Head on the north coast of Antrim.
Underwater turbines and dam-like barrages harness energy from waves and tides, providing a more predictable form of renewable energy than wind power, according to the British government.
Proponents say the technology generates most electricity in the winter, when waves and tides are at their strongest.
Although the technology could become key to driving down the UK's greenhouse gas emissions and cut its reliance on imported fossil fuels, wind and wave power is opposed by some local campaigners, citing possible harm to bird and marine life in their localities.