Sunday 22 April 2018

Son of Charlie Haughey seeks €3m to harness Irish sea power

Company aims to tap into west coast resource

Tom Lyons

CONOR Haughey, the eldest son of former Taoiseach Charles Haughey, is seeking investment of €3m in his wave energy company.

Haughey developed the technology for his company, Blue Power Energy, inspired by his father's efforts to make his private island, Inisvickillane in the Blaskets, self-sufficient.

Blue Power, which Haughey founded four years ago, has developed a new way of capturing energy from waves that has been tested by the Hydraulic Marine Research Centre at University College Cork (UCC).

Haughey, along with his chief financial officer Damien Browne and two private investors, have funded development prior to his decision to seek outside investors.

"We thought, how can we harness the power of the ocean on our doorstep?" Haughey said. "We have the best waves in the whole world. The west coast of Ireland is a huge untapped resource."

Browne said: "There are 500 million people in Europe who are looking for renewable power and, unlike in the Middle East, we have security of supply."

Haughey said that UCC concluded his technology was superior to many existing products.

"Efficiencies of up to 80 per cent were achieved with excellent power smoothing characteristics," Browne said.

"We are looking for angel investors or a utility partner to bring it to commercialisation," Haughey added.

The company recently met Irish corporate finance houses to discuss fundraising.

Blue Power believes that the success of Eddie O'Connor's wind ventures and OpenHydro, the Irish tidal energy firm, prove that Ireland can build sustainable renewable firms from scratch.

Blue Power has employed engineer Colin O'Brien to design its prototypes.

"The whole west coast of Ireland has incredible waves," O'Brien said. "We could be the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy."

"Charlie [Haughey] had the original idea," Browne said. "He tried building wind turbines in the Eighties on Inisvickillane -- that's what gave Conor the interest in powering island communities."

Haughey and Browne's interest in the ocean developed from sailing together on his father's yacht, the Celtic Mist, which earlier this year was donated to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group.

Blue Ocean plans to initially target its technology at island communities like the Canary Islands or Ireland where transportation of conventional power is expensive.

Haughey has previously worked in both property development and mining, including a company called Feltrim. He was also an investor in Michael Dawson's Gift Voucher Shop.

The Haughey family made €45m during the boom when they sold their father's Gandon-designed house and estate at Abbeville to Joe Moran's Manor Park Homes. The estate has since been put back on the market for just €7.5m.

Sunday Indo Business

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