West of Ireland wave energy project gets €19.8m in EU funding

18 Dec 2012

The European Commission has today awarded €19.8m in funding to the WestWave wave energy project off the west coast of Ireland. The project, which is being led by ESB, will involve the installation of six wave energy converters, with the aim of generating up to 5MW of clean electricity by 2015.

The WestWave project plans to demonstrate the potential of scaling up wave energy. Six wave energy capture devices will be placed at a depth of 15 metres each. A prototype has already been tested at the European Marine Energy Centre on the Orkney Islands in Scotland.

According to the Commission, the results of recent design changes and tests of an improved 800kW design will feed into the final design, installation and operation of the WestWave project.

WestWave is being led by ESB, while four technology partners are also involved – Wavebob, Ocean Energy, Pelamis Wave Power and Aquamarine Power. The project also involves a consortium of more than 25 associate partners, including Siemens, the Marine Institute, Vattenfall and TechWorks Marine.

In total, the Commission has awarded more than €1.2bn in funding to 23 renewable energy demonstration projects under the first call for proposals for its NER300 funding programme.

The projects will be located in 16 EU member states and will cover a range of renewable technologies, including bioenergy, concentrated solar power, geothermal power, wind, ocean energy and smart grids.

The EU Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard said the funding announcement marked a “major milestone” in EU climate policy.

The funds were raised from the sale of 200m allowances from the new entrants’ reserve (NER) of the EU Emissions Trading System.

She described the NER300 programme as a type of ‘Robin Hood’ mechanism, whereby polluters pay for large-scale demonstrations of new low-carbon technologies.

“The €1.2bn of grants – paid by the polluters – will leverage a further €2bn of private investment in the 23 selected low-carbon demonstration projects. This will help the EU keep its frontrunner position on renewables and create jobs here and now, in the EU,” said Hedegaard.

The aim is to have the 23 projects up and running by 2015 to collectively increase annual renewable energy production in Europe by some 10TWh. Put in perspective, this energy figure equates to the annual fuel consumption of more than 1m cars.

Waves image via Shutterstock

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic