We recently announced a partnership with Simply Blue Group to pool our expertise to deliver the pioneering 5MW wave farm “Saoirse” project. This project will be located off the coast of County Clare, an area with one of the world’s best potential wave energy resources.
Shane McLoughney, project manager at ESB, shares details on how Saoirse will work and the potential it could have for Ireland.
Why wave energy?
Harnessing our natural resources – such as wind, solar and wave – is critical to Ireland achieving its climate goals. Ireland has a lot of wave energy to harness with an estimated 18GW available off our west coast. Wave energy could power a significant number of homes around Ireland in the future so it’s important that we now invest now and test the viability of this technology.
Why did you select this specific location in Co Clare?
The area of search for Saoirse was chosen because it best fits the environmental and technical requirements of the project and provides the best opportunity for a sustainable design and build, based on available information. The site will be located 4km off the west coast of Co Clare. Surveys and evaluations have been, and will continue to be, conducted to ensure that the project is developed in a way that minimises its impact on the environment.
What technology will be used for the Saoirse project?
The chosen technology for deployment is CorPower Ocean’s Wave Energy Converter (WEC). CorPower Ocean are developers of high-efficiency WECs, enabling reliable and cost-effective harvesting of electricity from ocean waves. The first full-scale demonstration of the CorPower Ocean WEC technology is currently taking place in Portugal.
The Saoirse project will show that wave energy technology is finally reaching maturity and allow Ireland to be first movers into this exciting new clean energy generation space.
When will Saoirse and other wave projects start powering our homes?
Saoirse is a pre-commercial project that will demonstrate the benefits of wave energy and the wave farm will remain in the water off the Co Clare coast for up to 15 years. Subject to the necessary consents and a grid connection, the project is on target to be completed by the mid to late 2020s.
Wave energy is still in its relative infancy stage and this project will prove instrumental in showcasing its viability and potential for our long-term climate ambitions.
What about ESB’s previous wave project, WestWave?
We set up WestWave in 2014, a collaborative demonstrative project between ESB and other technology developers. Unfortunately, the technology was not available at that time to develop the project commercially and at the scale required. We did however make the learnings from that project available to the public through the SEAI so that future wave projects could benefit from this knowledge. Going forward we believe that the technology provided by CorPower represents the best-suited technology to deliver this exciting project at this location.
How is this project funded?
The project has been pre-selected for funding by the European Commission’s Innovation Fund programme in its third call for projects. The project is currently in negotiations with the Commission around the preparation of a grant agreement for this project, which will conclude in the coming months. This grant funding will cover a percentage of the development costs with the remainder split between ESB and Simply Blue Group on an equal basis.
What benefits will this project bring to the local community?
As projects such as this represent a large amount of capital investment, there is considerable opportunity for job creation within the local community and along the Atlantic coast. This project will be crucial in the early-stage initiation of a local supply chain to support the deployment of wave energy off Ireland’s West Coast.
More information on our Saoirse wave project can be found here.