WAVE energy could be producing electricity for the Irish market by 2009, following successful tests off the west coast.
Specialised wave energy company, Ocean Energy, has just completed eight months of tests using a wave energy converter known as the OE Buoy.
They now say that the trials, in severe sea conditions in Galway Bay, have proved that the Irish-designed and built technology can generate a commercially viable source of power.
If everything goes according to plan, the company hopes to be in a position to supply electricity to the national grid by 2009.
Testing of OE Buoy took place at a Marine Institute-designated site and the results have been validated by the Hydraulic Marine Research Centre at University College Cork.
Worldwide, only two other companies are at the same level of testing of wave energy systems, one in Denmark and one in Scotland.
Dr Tony Lewis of the research centre at UCC said yesterday: “If Ireland could capture this opportunity then we have the potential to create a substantial number of jobs, solve our energy problems, and become a world leader in the production of wave energy devices.”
Ocean Energy’s John Keating said the data collected indicates the project is commercially feasible and that the results also show that the government’s wave energy generation target of 500 mega watts by 2020, as set out in its Ocean Energy Strategy, is achievable.
“In fact, the interim target of 75 mega watts by 2012, recently set by the Green Party when they entered Government, is also on course to be met,” he said.
By 2020 wave power generation will contribute just over 7% of the country’s total 7,000 mega watt output, he predicted. Dr Lewis says there is no reason Ocean Energy should not become a world leader in the production of wave energy generation. The 28-tonne OE Buoy was assembled in Cork and moored off Spiddal, Co Galway, on Christmas Day of 2006.