More than 300 jobs on way at new €15m wave energy lab
IRELAND will become a world leader in wave energy research thanks to a €15m new lab, which will create over 300 new jobs.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the new Beaufort Centre, when it officially opens next year, will boast the world's largest energy reserves and will be the focus of research grants worth over €50m.
The new Ringaskiddy complex, which is adjacent to the National Maritime College, is named after the Meath scientist, Rear Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort, who developed the wind measurement scale named in his honour.
Costing €15m to build, the complex will create 200 construction jobs and, when fully operational, will be home to 135 scientists working with both University College Cork and Cork Institute of Technology.
Mr Kenny said Ireland had effectively "turned its back on the sea" decades ago with unforgivable economic consequences.
"This investment, these sectors, are critical to Ireland's current and future development," he added.
"We know very well that Ireland has not been to the fore in maximising the potential of our ocean resources. Through this initiative (Ocean Wealth) we're determined to use our ocean resources to help drive our economic recovery and make sure we achieve the kind of sustainable growth our people need and deserve."
Centres like the Beaufort complex will help Ireland to boost maritime sector turnover to €6.4bn a year by 2020 as well as doubling its contribution to 2.4pc of GDP by 2030.
Crucially, the new complex aims to exploit Ireland's potential as the largest wind and wave energy generation centre in Europe given its Atlantic location.
Mr Kenny said that R&D held the key to Ireland's ongoing economic recovery as he said the signs for both reducing unemployment and boosting exports were very positive.
"There has been stabilisation in the labour market. Yes, the number of people out of work remains unacceptably high," he said. "But the unemployment rate has begun to drop. The private sector is now creating 2,000 jobs a month.
"Competitiveness has improved significantly, with prices falling back to 2002 levels.
"Ireland can be the best small country in the world for business," he added.
The new Beaufort facility will be used for the design and testing of energy devices to be deployed at sea, including wave, tidal and off-shore wind machinery.