Government to invest over €26m in ocean energy by 2016
MORE than €26m will be invested by the Government between now and 2016 to help fund the development of devices capable of producing electricity from ocean waves.
Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte also said that companies producing power would receive a guaranteed price, which will help them secure finance to develop devices.
The initiative was announced this morning at the 5th Ocean Energy Industry Forum in Dublin.
Details of the Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan also include:
* A payment of 26 cent per kilowatt hour of electricity produced. This will not result in "significant additional costs" for electricity customers, Mr Rabbitte said.
* A steering group made up of government departments, agencies and industry will be created to help drive policy.
* Additional funding to help develop a national ocean testing site off Co Mayo, including funding for sea cables to transport power to the shore.
* Supports will also be put in place for test sites in Galway and Cork, and funding to help develop prototypes.
There are a number of ways to produce power, including using ocean currents to drive turbines.
A second way is to use currents to pump pistons, which drive water through a turbine to generate electricity.
Ireland has some of the best wave resources in the world, however, the technology is unproven.
A working device has the potential to transform how electricity is produced, help combat climate change and create jobs in manufacturing, monitoring and deployment.
Experts believe that almost 1,500 jobs could be created in the industry from 2020, but serious challenges remain and a target to produce 500MW of power - enough for about 400,000 homes - is unlikely to be met.
This is because there is no device in the world yet developed which can produce large quantities of electricity.
"Given the current state of readiness of the technology, the projections previously outlined to 2020 will not now be achieve but the possibilities they represent remain valid over a longer timescale, looking out to 2030 and beyond," the strategy says.
The plan was welcomed by the ESB, which said it provided "clarity" and would help attract funding.
"Ireland's oceans have the potential, in time, to provide large quantities of indigenous, renewable energy and reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels," head of innovation at ESB John McSweeney said.
"The plan gives a significant boost to the sector."