ESB planning a wave energy farm off west coast
The €50m project will generate enough electricity to power up to 4,000 homes
The ESB is planning to build a wave energy farm off the coast of Co Clare by 2018 which will cost up to €50m to develop and provide enough power for 4,000 homes.
The company's West Wave project will involve trialling five devices capable of generating electricity from wave energy, and will be funded through a €23m EU grant and from its own resources.
Project director Brian Fox said the commercial semi-state expects to develop farms with up to 50 devices from 2020, if the technology is proven capable of withstanding the ravages of the Atlantic.
He said the company expected to seek planning permission later this year, and that the farm should be in place within two years.
"The project is a 5MW [megawatt], pre-commercial demonstration project," he told the Irish Independent.
"It's to demonstrate a number of devices off the coast of Clare.
"The Atlantic is an extreme environment to deploy devices, but it's a huge resource.
"We have five we're very interested in, and it will be a competitive tendering process."
Ireland is considered to have among the best wave energy resources in the world, with the kinetic energy contained in waves capable of being harnessed by specialist devices to generate electricity.
This could be used to power island communities and help Ireland meet renewable energy targets.
Analysis suggests there is a theoretical resource of some 525 TWh (terawatt hours) in Irish waters. By way of comparison, last year Ireland consumed some 126TWh of power.
The project team is already developing the site at Killard, near Doonbeg, and is in talks with five companies.
These include Irish firm Ocean Energy, AW Energy, Ocean Linx, Wello and Carnegie. Mr Fox added that two options were being considered - an option near the shore where the device would be fixed to the seabed, or ones which are deployed further offshore. Indicative costs were €40m to €50m.
"Once we do deploy the technology at this scale, it feeds into developing larger arrays [or farms] along the west coast," he said.
"It opens up a whole opportunity for Ireland to get more energy from the ocean and will supplement onshore wind and solar.
"There are a lot of resources required including divers and local boat owners. There are ongoing operations and maintenance as well, particularly at this early stage. It's a good story from that jobs perspective."
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