Ireland loses out to Scotland in wave energy round

23 May 2011

With Scotland having secured two major wave power projects in recent days, the Marine Renewables Industry Association (MRIA) says Ireland has lost out in ’round one’ of the contest to lead the development of a global wave energy industry.

Aegir Wave Power, a subsidiary of Swedish energy giant Vattenfall, and Aquamarine Power have secured a total of 50MW of seabed leases with potential for wave energy development off the west coast of Scotland.

Aegis will start with a 10MW project using Pelamis wave energy converters in an area of sea off the southwest of Shetland, while Aquamarine Power has secured seabed leases to capture up to 40MW of wave energy off the west coast of Lewis.

Pointing to how both Vattenfall and Aquamarine Power had previously expressed interest in developing wave farms in Ireland, Peter Coyle, chairman of the MRIA, said it is currently “impossible for any major developers to locate here” and to create jobs in any major way because, from a “Government point of view, Ireland is simply not yet open for business”.

He said the most important issues hampering the industry here could be resolved with little financial input from the Irish Government, highlighting how quickly and efficiently Scotland published and executed a process to secure wave farm sites.

Centre stage for wave energy

According to the MRIA, the wave energy sector could earn Ireland up to €10bn in extra income, and up to 52,000 jobs by 2030 if the Irish Government puts the necessary structures in place.

Peter Coyle, chairman, MRIA

Peter Coyle, chairman of the Marine Renewables Industry Association

Coyle said Ireland could have the potential to win the second round of ocean projects and become the world centre of this job-intensive new industry if “political will and urgency are shown”.

He said there are three stages involved in the development of a global wave energy industry, with stage 1 focusing on identifying and developing the most suitable technology and infrastructure to harness wave energy pilot projects of 10MW. Stage 2, meanwhile, involves scaling up the most viable technologies for full-scale commercial deployment on medium-scale wave farms of 50-100MW. Lastly, stage 3 is when the technology is ready for global rollout.

“The reality is that whichever country wins round 2 will become the global centre of the wave energy industry,” said Coyle.

The MRIA has now set out a five-year action programme – MRIA’s Response to the Republic of Ireland’s Draft Ocean Renewable Energy Development Plan – to focus on administrative actions such as planning grid development and holding an initial leasing round.

Business & Leadership will be hosting The Green Economy 2011 on the morning of 31 May at the Four Seasons Hotel in Dublin.Visit the event’s website or contact Niamh Carwood for more information.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic