Connemara station to assess potential for ocean energy

An Ocean Energy Buoy in trials on the Galway Bay test site

Technology currently being tested off Galway Bay in Connemara is on the crest of new wave energy.

Plans to develop an ‘ocean energy test bed’ in Galway Bay are currently being advanced by a collaboration of several State agencies.

It is planned that a sea-station, off An Spidéal, to assess and harness the potential of ocean energy, will be installed this coming summer.

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), the Marine Institute, the Hydraulics and Maritime Research Centre (UCC) and SmartBay Ireland are working together to develop the ocean energy test bed in Galway Bay.

The project is being funded by Science Foundation Ireland and will provide a test and demonstration facility for marine energy and technology. It will be deployed at the existing one-quarter scale wave energy test site near An Spidéal and will be used for testing, demonstrating and validation of renewable energy devices and marine environmental sensors and technologies.

The project includes a standard telecommunications cable from a shore station via the new pier at An Spidéal to the wave energy test site providing power and data connectivity.

It also consists of a subsea test and monitoring devices; and a floating ‘sea station’ platform which is currently being tendered for by SEAI.

The four kilometre cable will be installed in April, 2015 using the Marine Institute’s research vessel the R.V. Celtic Explorer and will come ashore at the pier at An Spidéal.

The cable will attach to the sea station at the test site. The sea station will be a small floating research platform approximately 50 metres squared.

It will facilitate power and communication to wave energy devices and will act as a simulated grid connection. It will also provide a safe and stable research environment for scientists and engineers who need to work at the test site, according to SEAI. Subject to successful procurement it will be deployed at the test site in summer 2015.

The Galway Bay test site is located 1.5km off An Spidéal in water depths ranging from 20m – 23m within Galway Bay and is used for testing quarter-scale prototype wave energy devices.

According to SEAI, “The license for the site has been held by the Marine Institute since 2006. The site has provided test and validation facilities for a number of devices to date. Extensive historical wave and weather data is available for the site. This data has been gathered and collated since 2008, and can be made available to potential device developers upon request.”

The SEAI added it has been, “working closely with the Marine Institute to promote and develop ocean energy potential in Ireland. At 900,000 square kilometres Ireland’s sea area is around ten times the size of our land area.  With one of the best offshore renewable energy resources in the world, the opportunities are immense.

“In February 2014 the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (DCENR) published the Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan to enable Ireland to develop this potential and to become an export market in green energy with enhanced security of supply. SEAI have been working closely with DCENR to implement this plan.”