ESB strikes major deal on Irish wave-energy farm

15 Jun 2010

ESB International (ESBI) has entered an agreement with one of Europe’s largest electricity utilities, Vattenfall, to develop ocean wave-energy projects off the west coast of Ireland.

ESB’s international wing and Vattenfall’s Irish operation, Tonn Energy, are to work together towards achieving the world’s first full-scale wave energy farm generating up to 10MW of electricity in Irish waters.

The agreement between the two companies involves collecting extensive survey data and evaluating local wave resources, seabed conditions and environmental sensitivities on particular sites along the west coast.

The project will see Irish ocean energy companies working with government bodies to put in place the foreshore consenting and transmission grid access needed to generate commercial ocean energy off the west coast.

The project will also assist in reaching the Government’s target of generating 500 megawatts of electricity from ocean energy by 2020.

Ireland can lead world in green tech

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan TD said that Ireland can realistically be a world leader in emerging green technologies.

“One of our best natural assets is our unparallelled ocean resource. The Government’s Ocean Energy Strategy is to position Ireland at the forefront of commercial wave energy development. A lot of work remains to be done, but this agreement between companies like ESB and Vattenfall is an important step towards realising the full potential of our wave resources, he said.

ESB chief executive Padraig McManus said the semi-state’s strategy to 2020 involves focusing on sustainable and renewable energies.

“This agreement between ESB and Vattenfall helps to put Ireland at the forefront of innovative technologies and job creation in the green energy sector.  This collaboration is an indicator of the determination to develop the potential of an indigenous energy resource such as this. There is a long way to go, but nothing will be achieved without taking the vital first steps that this agreement represents,” he said.

According to the head of Ocean Energy at Vattenfall, Ulf Tisell, Ireland is a strong candidate for the development of large quantities of clean ocean energy because of its massive natural wave resources. 

Once this potential is proven, Tisell said Ocean Energy envisages investing significantly in ocean energy here. 

“Other countries are also working to grasp ocean energy opportunities. A co-ordinated approach like this project is required if Ireland is to lead that race,” he added.

Photo: An artist’s impression of a generator harnessing ocean power for electricity