Wednesday 16 January 2008

Ocean-based electricity returns are ‘guaranteed’

COMPANIES that produce ocean-generated electricity will get guaranteed returns under a government plan to boost the use of renewable energy.

Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Eamon Ryan yesterday unveiled a three-year €26m package to boost ocean energy production.

One element of the plan is a set price for wave energy which the Government says is “over and above” what producers would receive in the marketplace.

Companies will be able to charge up to €220 per megawatt hour of wave energy they provide to the licensed electricity suppliers, who in turn distribute power to homes and businesses. The goal is to encourage more production of wave energy.

Another element of the plan is the provision of €1m towards a state-of-the-art “national ocean energy facility” in University College Cork. The facility will be able to develop and test ocean energy devices.

€2m is being provided to develop a wave energy test site near Belmullet in Co Mayo. Another €2m will be provided in grants this year to developers of ocean energy devices to help them make those devices commercial.

Approximately €500,000 will be provided to establish an “ocean energy development unit” as part of the Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) agency.

Launching the package at the Maritime College in Cork yesterday, Mr Ryan said it was his intention that Ireland become “a world leader” in renewable energy.

“We have unparalleled ocean resources in Ireland. The aim behind this R&D funding is to enable Ireland to win the race of developing a full-scale, commercially viable ocean energy device for generating electricity,” he added.

“This programme supports research, applied research and grants for commercialisation. The feed-in-tariff price offers a guaranteed return to producers for electricity they produce from ocean energy. The ocean energy development unit in SEI will have a central role in overseeing this programme. This is an integrated system offering support from the initial stages right through to sale.”

Fine Gael welcomed the package, the party’s energy spokesman Simon Coveney stressing the potential of ocean energy.

Irish Examiner

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