Developing Ocean Energy in Ireland. Belmullet Wave Energy Test Site

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1 Developing Ocean Energy in Ireland Belmullet Wave Energy Test Site

2 Where does our energy come from? Most of the energy we use in Ireland comes from fossil fuels such as oil, coal, peat and gas. We burn these fossil fuels in our power stations to produce electricity and we also use the fuels directly to heat our homes and run our cars. When used these fuels release carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change and as they are a limited resource we must look to other renewable sources of energy. Renewable Energy The main sources of renewable energy are the sun (solar energy), the wind, moving water (hydropower, ocean energy), geothermal (heat below the earth s surface) and biomass (wood and energy crops). Ireland has an abundance of several of these resources and their effective development and use will reduce emissions of harmful greenhouse gases and our reliance on imported fossil fuels. Given that we re an island nation we are uniquely positioned to develop and use our ocean energy resources to our advantage. In fact, with a focused and committed effort Ireland could become a world leader in ocean energy technologies. Proposed Belmullet Wave Energy Test Site The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland plans to develop a National Wave Energy Test Site, which is proposed to be located off Annagh Head, west of Belmullet in County Mayo. The purpose of the wave energy test site at Belmullet is to provide a location for the temporary mooring and deployment of wave energy machines so that their performance in generating electricity and their survivability can be tested and demonstrated in open ocean conditions. It is proposed for the site to operate for up to 20 years with devices on site intermittently throughout the year.

3 What is Ocean Energy? Ocean energy includes both wave and tidal power: wave power Wave power refers to the extraction of energy, usually in the form of electricity from the up and down motion of waves. Tidal power Tidal power is the generation of electricity from the horizontal motion of tidal currents in the sea. In this example the movement of the tide causes the turbines to turn. The proposed test site in Belmullet will solely focus on wave powered technologies.

4 About the Ocean Energy Development Unit (OEDU) The Government has chosen the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) to play a lead role in developing the ocean energy sector in Ireland. The Ocean Energy Development Unit (OEDU) was set up by SEAI in 2008 with the objective of making Ireland a world leader in supplying ocean energy technologies internationally and in generating electricity from the abundant waves and tides off our surrounding coastlines. It is hoped that by the year 2020 over 1900 new jobs will have been created and that there will be at least 500 megawatts of generating capacity installed in the ocean. That s enough to power nearly 500,000 homes. In order to achieve these ambitious targets the OEDU will: provide support funding for companies developing ocean energy devices develop wave energy test sites to test and demonstrate these devices before they become commercially viable including a full-scale National Wave Energy Test Site at Belmullet Who is SEAI? SEAI is the national energy authority whose mission is to play a leading role in facilitating Ireland s transformation to a society based on sustainable energy structures, technologies and practices. The Site Purpose of the site: To date ocean energy devices have been tested at small scale in the Hydraulic and Maritime Research Centre in Cork and at quarter scale in an existing test facility at Galway Bay. The purpose of the proposed full scale test site is to assess the performance of the wave energy machines under development in generating electricity and their survivability in open ocean conditions. There have only been a handful of full scale wave energy devices tested in the world. The development of a test site in Belmullet will be a major international success for Ireland. The proposed test site will operate for up to 20 years and will provide three separate test locations at various depths of water depending on the specific devices being tested: 1. Near-shore 10m to 25m water depth 2. Mid-water 50m water depth 3. Deep-water 100m water depth BELMULLET The proposed locations can be seen on the figure below. Belmullet was selected as the most suitable of seven candidate sites along the west coast principally due to: Deep water with sandy sea bed close to shore Quality of the wave climate Suitable grid for electrical connection Good shore infrastructure e.g. piers, roads, services 1 2 Deep-water: 12Km Ocean Water Depths +100m 50m 100m 1 WEATHERBUOY 2 DEEP WATER TEST AREA 3 WAVEBUOY 4 COASTAL TEST AREA 5 NEAR SHORE TEST AREA 6 TURBINE HOUSE 7 SUBSTATION CABLES 3 Mid-water: Approx 3Km 0Km 1Km 2Km WATER PIPELINES 4 What is a Wave Energy Device? Wave energy devices extract energy directly from the surface motion of ocean waves or from pressure fluctuations below the surface. 6 5 Near Shore: 1Km 0m 50m 7 How big will these ocean devices be? There is a great variety of machines in development but in general the sizes will range from 10 meters long to 30 meters long in other words from the size of an inshore fishing boat to the size of an ocean going trawler.

5 What s involved in setting up the test site? Environmental study Cable route It is proposed that four submarine electricity cables will be installed to a minimum of 1 metre below the seabed and will come ashore at Belderra beach. A small portion of the route near the 50 meter depth zone (about 2 miles out from Annagh Head) has a stony seabed and here the cables will be laid on top of the rock and protected using a rock berm or mattressing. What is a Foreshore lease? The Foreshore Acts require that a lease or license must be obtained for carrying out works or placing structures or material on State-owned foreshore. This is to ensure works conform to local by-laws and do not encroach on others foreshore areas. An environmental study will be carried out to assess the effects of the test site and its construction on local people, marine and terrestrial wildlife and the environment. This study forms part of the Licensing and Permitting process. Licensing and permitting The results of the environmental study will be compiled in an environmental impact statement which will accompany an application to the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government for a Foreshore Lease. It will also be necessary to apply to Mayo County Council for planning permission for the substation and the water turbine house. Both of these applications will include extensive public consultation. Wave and weather monitoring There are two SEAI wave monitoring buoys already installed at the midwater and deep-water areas off Annagh Head which are collecting data about wave conditions, weather and tidal currents. Data will shortly become available to the public at Substation An electricity substation will be located inland of the beach at Belderra (item 7 on map) and will be about the size of a domestic dwelling. The electricity cables mentioned above will continue underground to the substation. A dedicated overhead power line on wooden poles will transmit electricity from the substation to the electricity grid at Belmullet. What is a substation? Substations are small buildings, similar in size to a small domestic dwelling. They house an assembly of electrical equipment through which electrical energy is passed for transmission, distribution, transformation or switching. In this instance it will link the offshore submarine electricity cables and the onshore distribution electricity grid. What is a wave energy converter? The term wave energy converter is a generic term used to describe the different types of physical devices under development to generate electricity from ocean waves. Water pipelines Devices under test at the near shore site (item 5 on map) will send compressed water via pipelines along the seabed to a turbine house which will be constructed on Annagh peninsula (item 6 on map). Here, the pressurised water will be utilised to drive the turbine. The turbine is connected to an electrical generator which generates electricity and sends it to a small substation (item 7 on map) at Annagh Head and onto the electricity grid at Belmullet. The turbine house will be about the size of a domestic dwelling. Wave energy converter (WEC) moorings Mid and deep water wave energy devices will need to be anchored to the seabed by mooring lines. It is likely that mooring lines will be no longer than three to four times the water depth at the deployment location. Near-shore shallow water devices will be fixed directly to the seabed. Landing and launching facilities Frenchport on the Annagh Peninsula has been identified as a possible location for launching and landing facilities for boat services to the test site and the construction of a slipway adjacent to the existing pier is being considered. Timescale The applications for permits to the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and a planning application to Mayo County Council will be lodged before the end of It is anticipated that the site will be ready for testing the first wave energy machine in 2012.

6 The benefits of a Wave Energy Test Site The benefits to locals 1. There will be increased work generated for local people. 2. Local pier and slipway facilities will be enhanced. 3. In the longer term, assuming that wave energy converters are successfully tested and demonstrated at the Wave Energy Test Site, there is the potential for Erris/Belmullet to become a national focal point and centre of excellence for the wave energy sector. 4. The wave energy monitoring programme is providing real time, detailed information on wave and weather conditions and currents for surfers and fishermen in the area. The benefits to Ireland The Wave Energy Test Site will be the final piece of the jig-saw in terms of Ireland being able to provide a fully comprehensive suite of services to the ocean energy sector from drawing board, to tank testing, to quarter scale and on to full scale grid connected testing. This will make Ireland a global player in the provision of both expertise and new technologies to the ocean energy sector and will pave the way for the deployment of wave farms supplying renewable energy to Ireland s national grid and beyond. For more information on SEAI or this project please visit

7 Further Information: Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland Ocean Energy Development Unit Civic Offices, Belmullet, Co. Mayo t e w

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