Energia takes on Ireland’s wave power

10 May 2010

Energia and Ocean Energy Systems have signed a new electricity off-take agreement for wave energy. Energia is to add wave power to its 220MW renewable energy portfolio, supporting Ireland’s renewable-energy development.

The company has signed a preliminary off-take agreement (for the purchase of electricity generated) with the pioneering US firm Ocean Energy Systems (OES), whose wave energy converter (WEC) uses wave energy to produce electricity.
The deal was announced at the Marine Energy and Smart Grid Workshop, which is taking place today (10 May) and Tuesday 11 May in Farmleigh House, Dublin and Parliament Buildings, Belfast.

The event, which has been organised by the US Embassy, together with the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (DCENR), the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (Northern Ireland), the IDA and InvestNI is focusing on offshore marine electricity-generating technologies and smart-grid management tools.
The off-take agreement between Energia and OES has a potential value of €1m annually for each WEC unit being constructed for a 20-year operating life.

How the WEC will work in Ireland:

  • The electricity will initially be generated from a development test site off Belmullet, Co Mayo, where the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and OES are jointly developing a WEC prototype. It is anticipated that the prototype will be capable of generating 12 megawatt hours of electricity each day.
  • The new technology in the WEC transforms the ocean’s wave motion into electricity using the McCabe Wave Pump articulated-barge coupled with a novel power take-off system.
  • Powered by a swell of 2.5 metre high waves for 8.5 seconds, the WEC is capable of supplying 500 kilowatts of electricity to the grid – enough to displace 380kg of CO2 from conventional generation.

The power take-off technology is being developed in the US by Dr Michael McCormick, a professor who specialised in ocean wave energy at the US Naval Academy.
Speaking today, Tom Gillen, chief operating officer, Energia, said: “This exciting new deal with Ocean Energy Systems is a natural step for Energia given our longstanding commitment to renewables. There is a massive role for new energy technologies such as this in meeting Ireland’s future energy needs.

“Energia already supplies many of Ireland’s leading public and private sector organisations with green power, including Marks & Spencer, Bewley’s, Waterford City Council and Cork City Council. We look forward to growing our existing green energy client base through the use of new renewable sources such as the Wave Energy converter alongside our already considerable bank of wind farms.”
Brian Cunningham, chief executive, Ocean Energy Systems, commented, “The oceans of the world contain as much as 10 trillion watts of renewable energy, and Ireland’s west coast is recognised as one of the richest wave environments in the world.
“Energia is making a smart commitment to harness the huge potential that remains largely untapped in the oceans, and we look forward to working with them to help Ireland use the natural resources to meet its energy needs sustainably.”

Through its renewable energy portfolio, Energia is eliminating more than 350,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year from the Irish atmosphere – the equivalent of removing the emissions of more than 160,000, 1,400 cc cars from our roads.

By Carmel Doyle

Photo: Energia has announced it has signed an off-take agreement with pioneering US firm Ocean Energy Systems (OES) to use wave energy created by OES’ Wave Energy Converter, located off Belmullet, Co Mayo. Pictured at the announcement are US Ambassador to Ireland, Dan Rooney: the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan TD; and Tom Gillen, chief operating officer of Viridian Power & Energy

The Green Economy – A Business & Leadership Briefing

Ireland’s business leaders are gathering on 14 May to hear sustainability experts discuss the future of business, finance and investment within this new environmental reality, and we will look at how technology will be a key enabler in a more sustainable, prosperous future for all. Learn more about this event.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic