€23m for energy project off Clare

A project aimed at providing 2,000 homes and premises with electricity generated from wave and tidal movement off the west coast has been awarded €23m worth of funding from the European Commission.

The ESB’s 5mW WestWave project aims to develop Ireland’s first commercial wave energy project, in Clare, by 2018.

It is one of 19 such projects across the EU to share in €1bn funding from the European Commission.

The NER-300 programme — funded from the sale of emission allowances in the EU Emissions Trading System — is focused on projects aimed at fighting climate change.

As well as Ireland, funding is going to projects in the UK, France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Croatia, Cyprus, Sweden, Estonia, Denmark, and Latvia.

“With these first-of-a-kind projects, we will help protect the climate and make Europe less energy dependant,” said EU commissioner for climate action, Connie Hedegaard.

“The €1bn we are awarding will leverage some additional €900m of private investment. So almost €2bn of investment is going towards climate-friendly technologies here in Europe. This is a contribution to reduce Europe’s energy bill of more than €1bn per day that we pay for our imported fossil fuels.”

ESB head of innovation John McSweeney said the funding marks “a huge boost” to ocean energy development.

“Ireland’s oceans have the potential to provide large quantities of indigenous, renewable energy and reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels,” he said.

“Demonstration projects like ESB WestWave are critical if we are to realise the ultimate aim of progressing to larger commercial scale projects and a low carbon future.”

Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte said Ireland’s geographical position provides us with an “almost unparalleled ocean energy resource”, adding that progress on projects is “critical”.

“As identified in the Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan, which I published earlier this year, the ocean energy sector holds real potential for growth in the green economy and jobs in our coastal communities, both here in Ireland and along the western seaboard of the EU. It is now critical that the sector moves ahead with device deployment,” he said.