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ESB’s WestWave Project has been selected by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (DCENR) as one of the projects to go forward for evaluation by the European Investment Bank (EIB) under the EU New Entrant Reserve (NER300) funding mechanism.
The WestWave Project aims to develop the first wave energy project in Ireland by 2015 by generating an initial 5MW of clean renewable electricity from the plentiful wave energy resource available off the west coast of Ireland. WestWave is a collaborative project being led by ESB in conjunction with a number of wave energy technology partners, including Irish technology developers Wavebob & Ocean Energy and Scottish technology developers Aquamarine Power & Pelamis Wave Power.
The project will be considered for funding under the EU’s NER300 fund, alongside support under the Republic of Ireland’s Renewable Energy Feed-In Tariff (REFIT) for wave energy and domestic grant funding. The project is in line with ESB’s strategy to develop 150MW of electricity from ocean energy by 2020 and the Irish Government’s strategy to generate 500MW from ocean energy in the same period.
In a further development, ESB has been awarded foreshore exploration licences for the WestWave Project by the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government (DECLG). This will enable ESB to conduct marine surveys and resource measurements at two locations, Killard Point, Co. Clare and the Achill Area, Co. Mayo. These sites were identified following a detailed selection process based on mapping studies, site testing, environmental considerations and stakeholder feedback.
ESB chief executive Padraig McManus said: “ESB’s strategy involves focusing on sustainable and renewable energy technologies with the goal of reducing our carbon emissions by 80% by 2030 and achieving net carbon neutrality for our generation portfolio by 2050. We are very pleased that the WestWave Project has been selected by DCENR as one of the Irish projects being put through to the next stage of the NER300 process and we look forward to working with EIB during the next stage of the evaluation process. We also welcome the granting of foreshore licences by DECLG which will enable the project to undertake marine survey work, wave resource assessments and establish environmental baseline data at potential sites.”
1. The foreshore exploration licences will permit ESB to deploy wave measurement buoys to assess the wave climate at each site. ESB will also undertake hydrographic surveys at each site to assess the sea-bed conditions. The proposed works will provide baseline data on wave and current resources at each site; determine design and installation methodologies; and inform route selection for cables associated with a wave energy project. The survey work will also provide information for environmental studies of the area. These activities will take place over the next two years and the studies will be used to identify the best location for the WestWave Project. The third potential location for the project is the Atlantic Marine Energy Test Site (AMETS) in Belmullet, Co. Mayo.
2. ESB liaised fully with all the relevant statutory bodies as part of the application process for exploration licences, as required under the Foreshore Acts, and to date discussions have taken place with the DEHLG, Marine Licence Vetting Committee, National Parks and Wildlife, Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Commission for Energy Regulation, Eirgrid, ESB Networks, An Taisce, Commissioners for Irish Lights, Fáilte Ireland, Geological Survey of Ireland, Marine Institute, Mayo County Council and Clare County Council.
3. The Foreshore Acts require that no works or activity (including the erection of any structures) can be carried out on state-owned foreshore without a licence or lease from the Minister for Environment Community and Local Government.
4. The foreshore is the land and seabed between the high water of ordinary or medium tides (shown HWM on Ordnance Survey Maps) and the twelve-mile limit (twelve nautical miles is approximately 22.24km).
5. The EU’s NER300 scheme is a fund worth around €4.5bn to support carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) and innovative renewable projects, such as the WestWave project, across the European Union. The EIB will now spend nine months performing due diligence on the NER300 applications submitted to it, checking their financial and technical deliverability. After this the European Commission will verify the eligibility criteria assessment and re-confirm with all EU Member States the public funding contribution for recommended projects, before making its award decisions in early 2012.
6. AMETS is a national wave energy test site which is under development by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). It will be located off Annagh Head, west of Belmullet in County Mayo. The purpose of the test site is to provide a location for the deployment of offshore wave energy machines so that their performance in generating electricity and their ability to survive can be tested and demonstrated in open ocean conditions. ESB International has provided engineering design services to SEAI on the project over the last three years.
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