Wavebob, the Irish technology company specialising in ocean wave energy conversion, has secured a grant of $2.4 million (€1.83 million) from the US Department of Energy to prepare for a commercial-scale wave energy demonstration project planned for US waters in 2013. Bord Gais will also invest €1.8 million in Wavebob, bringing the total investments to €3.6 million.
The grant forms part of $37 million in marine and hydrokinetic energy grants announced by the US Department. It will be used to further develop Wavebob’s wave energy converter (WEC), which is currently in pre-commercial development. At full scale, the device is capable of producing in excess of one megawatt of energy with average output of over 500kW at sites in the North Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
The ‘Wavebob’ was one of the first WEC’s in the world to successfully produce electricity from ocean swell in 2007. The US Department of Energy grant will be used specifically to develop and test the company’s advanced power take-off device. The project benefits from support and collaboration with Vattenfall, one of Europe’s largest utility companies, and Chevron and Lockheed Martin in the US.
“The Department of Energy’s funding program for marine hydrokinetic technologies is vital to the development of both products and markets, at home and abroad. We are honoured to be selected for this award through a highly competitive process, and to be working with a distinguished team of leaders in maritime technology”, says Derek Robertson, president of Wavebob’s US operations based in Annapolis, Maryland.
Traditional sources of finance for technology development have become increasingly scarce as a result of the global economic crisis, with the result that many Irish companies are struggling to survive. On the bright side however, Andrew Parish, chief executive. of Wavebob, believes that the Irish energy utilities are making particularly good use of state assets in recognising the world-class potential of a small Irish indigenous company such as Wavebob. “This investment from Bord Gais builds on a previous technical agreement with ESBI and clearly demonstrates that Irish utilities recognise the ocean energy opportunity and are key agents of Government policy in maximizing the potential to Ireland of this immense natural resource,” he says.
According to John Mullins, chief executive of Bord Gais, Ireland has one of the best wave resources off its west coast, “It is important that utilities such as Bord Gais foster the development of companies like Wavebob, to enable them to advance their technology. Bord Gais will be actively involved in this development and we will commit our own resources to its advancement,” he adds.