OpenHydro wins pivotal engineering award

5 Oct 2011

Ireland's OpenHydro has won the Engineers Ireland CPD Company of the Year title. Pictured at the announcement were John Power, director-general, Engineers Ireland; Roisin Foley, HR manager, OpenHydro; and Paul Dunne, chief engineer, OpenHydro

Ireland’s pioneering clean-tech company OpenHydro, which is building the world’s first large-scale, grid-connected tidal energy farm with energy giant EDF off the north coast of France, has today won the Engineers Ireland Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Company of the Year title for its use of CPD to morph from being a start-up R&D firm to a major global player for pioneering marine turbines that generate renewable energy from tidal streams.

The Engineering Ireland awards, now in their eighth year, assess firms that use CPD to improve performance, by breaking into new markets, developing new products and innovating with cutting-edge technologies.

Speaking today, John Power, director-general, Engineers Ireland, said the CPD Accredited Employer standard recognises companies and organisations that implement specific continuing professional development policies to support their engineers and technical staff.

“OpenHydro Technology, the overall winner, is a great example of a company that has embraced CPD and has transitioned from being an R&D organisation to now supplying some of the world’s largest utility companies with commercial energy-generating turbines.”

The company, which is based in Greenore, Co Louth, is “officially Ireland’s best company when it comes to professional development for engineers”, said Power.

Already OpenHydro has achieved an array of industry firsts, including being the first to deploy a tidal turbine at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), the first to connect to and generate electricity from tidal streams onto the UK national grid and the first to successfully demonstrate a method of safely and economically deploying and recovering turbines directly on the seabed.

EDF deploys OpenHydro’s marine-tech expertise

OpenHydro in French offshore grid project with French utility giant EDF

In Brest is OpenHydro’s latest 16m tidal turbine being placed on to OpenHydro’s
custom designed installation barge, the ‘OpenHydro Triskell,’ as part of final preparations
to deploy off the coast of Brittany, France, in early September 2011

As reported on, French utility giant EDF is divining into the tidal energy expertise of Irish firm OpenHydro to create a 16m offshore tidal installation off the coast of Paimpol-Bréhat, France. When installed in 2012, it will be the world’s largest tidal array, generating power for the French electricity grid.

The alliance between OpenHydro and EDF also signalled France’s first foray into offshore tidal installations.

The Brittany region, the French State and Europe are all supporting the project in order to achieve a better knowledge of the marine environment and also in respect of providing regional employment.

OpenHydro is supplying the turbines, each of which has the capacity to generate more than 2MW of energy.

OpenHydro and its partner DCNS – naval defence and green-energy player DCNS took an 8pc stake in OpenHydro in January 2011 – completed the assembly of the first turbine for the Paimpol-Bréhat project in early September.

“We are delighted to be working with EDF on what is set to be the world’s first large-scale, grid-connected tidal energy farm and France’s first offshore tidal installation. EDF’s vision to develop this exciting project places France and EDF at the forefront of this new form of renewable energy generation,” said OpenHydro’s James Ives at the time.

OpenHydro received support from Ireland’s Ocean Energy Development Unit, which supported the turbine system design.

EDF Group itself is a leading electricity producer in Europe. It has mainly nuclear and hydraulic production facilities in France where 95pc of its electricity output is apparently CO2-free.

Engineers Ireland says CDP put firms at the forefront of innovation

“Continuing professional development is an important area of focus for any company that wants to have a global vision,” Power said. “Regardless of size, it is important to encourage and honour companies that display a willingness to engage in CPD with a view to being at the forefront of innovation. Therefore, I would like to recognise the leadership and ambition of all the entrants and congratulate each of the winning companies in the small, medium and large categories and also the public sector group winner.”   

Other groups to receive awards included Jennings O’Donovan & Partners Consulting Engineers, Sligo, in the small-sized category; MCS Kenny, Galway, in the medium-sized category; Farrans Construction, Belfast, in the large-sized category and Cavan County Council was honoured in the public sector category.        

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic