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Energy firms put power of Atlantic to the test

LARGE machines up to 30 metres long will be placed off the west coast next year to see if they can produce electricity using the power of the Atlantic Ocean.

Up to three wave-energy devices are expected to be in the waters of Galway Bay as part of ambitious plans to develop a new form of green energy, the Irish Independent has learnt.

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has confirmed it is in discussions with "at least" three firms, including companies based in Scotland and Norway, who want to test their machines in Irish waters.

Galway Bay is a test site for quarter-scale machines, or prototypes just 25pc of the final design size. It has been used by two other companies in recent years and the prototypes can be as long as 30 metres.

Some €3m will be spent installing an underwater power cable fitted with fibre optics and Wi-Fi over the coming months, which will allow manufacturers to measure how much power is being produced.

The output will be certified by the SEAI and used by the firms to prove their system works and help attract investors.

"We'll take the power, measure it and monitor it. We can also give them a certificate which is what they want and we'll also allow them to test generators," Graham Brennan from SEAI told the Irish Independent at the Marine Renewables Canada annual conference in Ottawa.

The test site measures about 37 hectares and is located about 1.5 kilometres offshore.

There are a number of ways to produce wave 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.

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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.

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