ESB International has applied to the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government for foreshore exploration licences in the first step towards developing a 5 Megawatt wave energy project off the west coast of Ireland. This will enable the company to conduct marine surveys and resource measurements at two locations – Killard Point, County Clare and the Achill Area, County Mayo in what is called the WestWave project.
The two sites were identified following a detailed selection process based on mapping studies, site testing, environmental considerations and stakeholder feedback. The WestWave project is a collaborative initiative led by ESBI in conjunction with a number of wave energy technology partners which will generate an initial 5MW of electricity from wave energy by 2015.
The foreshore licences will allow ESBI to deploy wave measurement buoys for a minimum period of one year to assess the wave climate at each site. ESBI will also undertake hydrographic surveys at each site to assess the sea-bed conditions.
The proposed works will provide baseline data on wave and current resources at each site; determine design and installation methodologies and inform route selection for cables associated with a wave energy project. The survey work will also provide information for environmental studies of the area. These activities will take place over a 12 to 24 month period following receipt of the foreshore exploration licences.
The findings will be used to identify the best location for the WestWave project. Currently the sites under consideration are; Killard point, Achill Area and the Atlantic Marine Energy Test Site (AMETS) in Belmullet, County. Mayo.
The WestWave project will seek funding under the EU NER300 programme and from domestic grant sources. It will also seek support under the Republic of Ireland REFIT tariff for wave energy. The project is in line with ESBI’s strategy to develop 150MW of electricity from ocean energy by 2020 and the Irish Government’s strategy to generate 500MW from ocean energy in the same period.