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Major wave energy initiative announced

Eamon Ryan TD has announced that Swedish electricity company Vattenfall has selected Ireland for an exciting initiative to develop ocean wave energy into a viable, clean and valuable new energy source.

Tonn Energy, a joint venture between Vattenfall and Wavebob has been formed to carry out this programme of work.

In the long term this move could position Ireland as a net exporter of green energy, utilising its massive natural ocean wave resource, and could hold significant benefits for the West of the country through subsequent investment and employment.

Tonn Energy is among the first commercial wave power development companies in Ireland. It combines the major backing and expertise of one of Europe’s large power utilities, Vattenfall, with innovative wave energy conversion technology company, Wavebob.

Work will now begin on the planning, installation, operation and maintenance of pre-commercial devices at the national wave energy test site at Belmullet, Mayo.

Success there would enable Tonn Energy to consider future plans to achieve 250MW of generating capacity elsewhere around Ireland, which would represent half of the Government’s published targets for 2020.

Minister Ryan who joined with Harvey Appelbe, Project Director for Tonn Energy, in making the announcement, said “I have articulated my intention that Ireland should become a world leader in renewable energy. We have unparalleled ocean resources."

"The aim of this Government’s Ocean Energy Strategy is to position Ireland at the fore-front in the development of full-scale, commercially viable ocean wave energy generating facilities."

"The participation of a major power utility like Vattenfall, together with the commitment of its Irish partners – which I applaud - in Ireland’s energy programme, marks a further step toward realising the considerable opportunities represented by our ocean wave energy resource.”

Vattenfall, a Swedish public limited company, generates, distributes and sells electricity and heat to customers throughout Europe.

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It is one of Europe’s largest electrical utilities generating 160TWh and consolidated sales in 2008 of approximately €17 billion.

Operations today are conducted in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Poland, The Netherlands, UK and now Ireland.

Wavebob is an indigenous Irish technology firm, founded in 1999 and holding international patents for wave energy conversion technology.

Wavebob has produced the first Irish device and one of only a handful worldwide to have successfully harnessed the energy of the ocean waves.

The prototype of ‘Wavebob’ was installed on the Marine Institute’s test site at Spiddle, Co.Galway in March 2006. It was the first device to produce electricity in Irish waters, achieving 3000 hours of operation.

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