Dr. Peter Heffernan, Marine Institute CEO signed a Memorandum of Understanding on offshore renewable energy research cooperation with the United States Department of Energy last week. It was signed on behalf of Energy Minister, Pat Rabbitte, during the Taoiseach's visit to the US. Dr Henry Kelly, Assistant Secretary in the Department of Energy signed on behalf of the US.
Ireland has a sea area over 10 times the size of its land area and one of the best wind and wave resources in Europe. According to Dr. Heffernan, "The potential of Ireland's oceans to offer a source of clean, green, renewable energy in the future is huge. The signing of this memorandum will hopefully serve as a catalyst in the development of new ocean energy technologies that will provide us with a secure source of green energy and also create commercial opportunities for services in this emerging sector."
Minister Rabbitte welcomed the MoU saying, "Wave energy technology is still very much at the research, development and deployment stages and the Memorandum signed will result in increased co-operation between Ireland and the US.
The co-operation is planned to be strategic, concentrating mainly on technologies which are not yet commercially viable but which might offer significant renewable energy potential. Mutual co-operation will lead to increased investment opportunities in the Sector, initially as projects develop through the research and demonstration phases and also through increased academic cooperation. "
Collaboration under this Memorandum will involve research co-operation in the field of wave and tidal energy, involving marine and hydrokinetic energy technologies.
Among the Irish bodies that may take part in this research cooperation are the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, which has a dedicated Ocean Energy Research Unit providing research funding and other supports, the Marine Institute, the Irish Maritime and Energy Resource Cluster (IMERC) and the Hydraulics and Maritime Research Centre, University College Cork.
Possible participants from the US side are National Energy Laboratories and National Marine Renewable Energy Centers such as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center, the National Marine Renewable Energy Center of Hawaii, and the Foundation for Ocean Renewables.
The IDA and Enterprise Ireland are also closely involved in developing and assisting the Ocean Energy Sector.