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ESB to build ocean energy project off west coast

ESB to build ocean energy project off west coast

Áine Ryan

A WAVE-ENERGY project, WestWave, set to be built off the west coast, could become the first of its kind in northwestern Europe. ESB International (ESBI) has identified two sites off Co Mayo – waters near Achill Island and the Mullet Penninsula – as possible locations for the development, which could reduce Ireland’s energy costs by 3 to 4 per cent. 
Other suitable locations under consideration are the waters off Slyne Head, Co Galway, and off north Clare. 
According to ESBI’s Ocean Energy Project Manager, James Tedd, the target date for generation is 2015.
ESBI is already involved with Sustainable Energy Ireland at the State’s marine energy test site near Annagh Head, off the Mullet penninsula.
The ESB’s strategy is to reduce its own carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2030, and to be ‘net-zero’ in carbon emissions by 2050. Mr Tedd said the company hoped to derive at least one-third of its electricity generation from renewable sources by 2020, and ocean energy would provide a major segment of that.
WestWave is working with four key technology partners towards the selection of the optimal device. These are Wavebob, Ocean Energy, Pelamis and Aquamarine Power, which is testing off Scotland’s Orkney Islands.
WestWave has been approved by the Government as one of two Irish bids for the €4.5 billion in funding set aside by the European Union under the New Entrants Reserve (NER) 300 programme for low carbon technologies.
The company has looked for €18 million in NER funding. However, this project is expected to cost around €40 million. The company has also applied to the European Investment Bank for funding for the five-megawatt project.