Multi-million wave farm to power 4,000 homes
FUNDING of more than €23m has been approved for a wave energy farm which will produce sufficient energy to power more than 4,000 homes when it comes on stream in 2018.
The ESB WestWave project will be the first of its kind in Europe and will see five generators moored off the Co Clare coast.
Funding was awarded under the commission's NER 300 programme, which allocated €1bn for 19 projects across 12 EU member states.
The money can be drawn down once the project is up and running and if key performance targets are achieved. Expected to cost up to €50m to develop, the guaranteed revenue stream will help ESB secure backers.
The European Commission said the project would receive annual payments, based on "proven performance".
The project is planned for Killard near Doonbeg, and the wave energy devices will initially be deployed to help "prove" that the technology can work on a commercial scale.
Ocean energy devices not only have to reliably produce power, they must also cope with the ravages of the ocean, including storm surges, and be capable of withstanding corrosion.
The ESB has previously said it does not expect the project to make money, but that it hopes to prove that the fledgling technology is durable and can produce power on an ongoing basis, which will help drive the industry forward.
Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte said the ocean energy sector provided "real potential" for growth, but that deploying devices in the water was key to development of the sector.
Five firms have been shortlisted to supply the technology for the ESB project. The successful bidder will be chosen by the middle of 2016.