Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland team up for ocean energy

OpenHydro's tidal turbine

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), Invest Northern Ireland and Scottish Enterprise launched a collaborative network aiming to intensify ocean energy development at an inaugural meeting held yesterday in Dublin. 

The Ocean Power Innovation Network’s (OPIN) first mission is to advance innovation by learning from experts in other industries, to push the boundaries of what’s possible in ocean energy and progress innovative ocean projects in a coordinated way. It will focus on collaborative initiatives, knowledge sharing, applied learning and creative thinking in ocean energy technology development.

The first OPIN session was held yesterday, sponsored by ESB who also supported the development of the network, and was attended by fifty experts from within the ocean energy sector and beyond, including professionals from oil and gas exploration, marine engineering, wave and tidal technologies and data analytics.

Head of Emerging Sectors with SEAI, Declan Meally said: “The coasts of Ireland and Scotland have an abundant supply of ocean energy. Pooling resources, knowledge and experience between us and collaborating outside of the ocean energy sector means we can bring best practices together to drive development in ocean energy.  

“The countries that can innovate in this space, with regard to both technology and its interaction with the natural and the human environment, will have a real advantage globally and we want to ensure that Ireland is at the forefront in achieving its potential and maximising our renewable resources.”

Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland already have a strong working relationship when it comes to ocean energy through initiatives such as the all-island Marine Renewables Industry Association and the OCEANERA-NET group of agencies which have launched a joint call to support transnational ocean projects, writes the SEAI.

Jan Reid, Senior Manager, Marine Energy and Low Carbon Technologies at Scottish Enterprise, said: “This initiative allows Scotland and Ireland to come together to build a strong value chain for marine energy, in addition to existing collaborations, and encourages companies to share and learn from well-established industries to accelerate their development towards future sustainable success.”

The activities of many ocean energy companies span the three jurisdictions, the SEAI said. For example, OpenHydro, based in Greenore, Co. Louth, has tested its tidal turbine at the European Marine Energy Centre in the Orkney Islands, Scotland and plans to develop a commercial scale 100 MW tidal energy array in the waters off Torr Head in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

Damian McAuley, Director of Advanced Engineering and Construction from Invest NI, said: “Our priority is to promote market opportunities emerging from the ocean energy sector and raise the awareness of the benefits of collaboration with our partners in developing supply chain opportunities. Innovating, being at the forefront of technologies and combining our expertise will help position our companies to take advantage of ocean energy prospects.”

 The next OPIN innovation sessions will be hosted by Northern Ireland and Scotland later in the year.

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