The Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding on offshore renewable energy research co-operation with the United States Department of Energy. Collaboration under this Memorandum will involve research co-operation in the field of wave and tidal energy, involving marine and hydrokinetic energy technologies.
Ireland has a sea area that is around ten times the size of its land area. Ireland’s location at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean ensures one of the best wind and wave resources in Europe. There is very significant potential in utilising these resources in the medium to long term to generate carbon free renewable electricity.
According to Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte TD: “Wave energy technology is still very much at the research, development and deployment stages and the Memorandum signed will result in increased co-operation between Ireland and the US. Both countries have an interest in encouraging and improving technology development in this sector and the Memorandum builds on an excellent working relationship fostered by previous joint marine renewable events held in Galway, Washington and Farmleigh over the past few years.”
While the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland have a dedicated Ocean Energy Research Unit, other bodies that might take part in such research co-operation from the Irish perspective include the Marine Institute, the Hydraulics and Maritime Research Centre, University College Cork, and other appropriate entities.
Possible participants from the US side are National Energy Laboratories and National Marine Renewable Energy Centers such as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center, the National Marine Renewable Energy Center of Hawaii, and the Foundation for Ocean Renewables.
The IDA and Enterprise Ireland are also closely involved in developing and assisting the Ocean Energy Sector. They both acknowledge research and development opportunities in the sector – even at the early stages of development that the sector is currently in – and recognise the long term potential of Ireland becoming a development and deployment centre for the industry.
The Minister adds: “The co-operation is planned to be strategic, concentrating mainly on technologies which are not yet commercially viable but which might offer significant renewable energy potential. Mutual co-operation will lead to increased investment opportunities in the Sector, initially as projects develop through the research and demonstration phases and also through increased academic co-operation. “