Irish company Ocean Energy has today landed a major contract to provide the first wave device to the offshore marine energy test site Wave Hub in Cornwall by the end of the year, giving a welcome boost to Ireland’s wave-energy sector.
Cork-based Ocean Energy has confirmed it expects to deploy its first full-scale device, costing €9m, at Wave Hub off the north coast of Cornwall by the end of this year.
The Wave Hub, an electrical "socket" for testing wave-energy machines, was put on the seabed off Hayle, Cornwall, in 2010.
For three years now, Ocean Energy has been testing a quarter scale prototype of its buoy in Galway Bay.
Ocean Energy’s buoy uses the oscillating water column principle. As waves enter a subsea chamber they force air through a turbine on the surface, generating electricity. As the waves recede they cause a vacuum, drawing air back through the turbine.
Together with its technology partner Dresser-Rand, with which it has signed an MOU, Ocean Energy was one of a number of companies competing for the opportunity to win the Wave Hub contract. The full-scale unit, when installed, will have the capacity to generate sustainable energy to power up to 1,200 homes.
Wave Hub said it will fund Ocean Energy’s deployment costs up to a maximum of £1m (€1.2m). This will include the cost of securing a marine licence and installation of moorings and deployment, it confirmed today.
Speaking this afternoon, John McCarthy, chief executive and co-founder of Ocean Energy, said the contract win was a major achievement for Irish technology that has been developed with the assistance of Irish Government funding and expertise at the UCC Hydraulics and Maritime Research Centre.
"It is also an endorsement of the technology development path adopted by Ocean Energy," he said.
McCarthy said the "rigorous testing" and "proven survivability" of Ocean Energy’s technology was a key driver in winning the contract for its device.
"Ireland, with its resources and technical capabilities, has the potential to become the world leader in wave energy and Ocean Energy plans to play its part in making this a reality," he said.
"Ocean Energy has completed three years of prototype testing in energetic sea conditions and is ready to make the next step to Wave Hub with a full-scale device. If the testing goes well we expect to see Ocean Energy deploy an array of devices," said Wave Hub’s general manager Claire Gibson.
Sustainable Energy Authority Ireland recently released statistics, which pointed to how the Irish wave-energy industry has the potential to employ 50,000 people by 2030 and could generate more than four times Ireland’s current installed capacity or 30,000MW of power.