SolarMarine Energy Ltd, an Irish Small-Medium Enterprise (SME) based in Co Mayo, has designed an innovative floating hybrid renewable energy system, which could offer sustainable low carbon solution for Irish coastal communities. The research and development project was funded by the Marine Institute's 2018 Industry-Led Awards scheme. Under the scheme, the Marine Institute provided €2.4 million in funding for research projects to twelve companies, working in collaboration with five Higher Education Institutions.
For this research project, SolarMarine Energy Ltd designed a floating solar energy structure to produce green hydrogen. Green hydrogen is generated using excess renewable energy that can be used as a clean fuel, for heating and transport or to store and transport energy. SolarMarine Energy's research indicates that floating solar energy is ideal for island and coastal communities.
Eamon Howlin, CEO of SolarMarine Energy said, "The floating solar industry is only emerging in Europe having been established in Japan in 2014, and has a projected market value of over $1 billion by 2023. Thanks to our collaborative study in partnership with the Marine Institute and University College Cork, SolarMarine Energy Ltd are playing an important part in this developing industry."
Dr Paul Leahy, Science Foundation Ireland MAREI Centre at University College Cork (UCC) said, "Our collaboration with SolarMarine Energy has been very successful and we would like to continue working with the company on a follow-up demonstrator project. A ﬂoating solar array prototype located near UCC's Beaufort Building in Ringaskiddy, Co Cork, would allow SolarMarine and UCC to capitalise on the design work undertaken under the Marine Institute funded project, and bring the SolarMarine ﬂoating solar concept closer to market."
Dr Niall McDonough, Director of Policy, Research and Innovation at the Marine Institute said, "Supporting new marine renewable energy solutions is a strategic priority for Ireland to meet the targets of the Climate Action Plan 2019. Through our competitive funding programme, the Marine Institute provides grants to companies in Ireland to undertake research and to develop innovative concepts, prototypes, solutions and business models. This kind of support is essential to boost ocean business and to enable the transition to a climate-neutral blue economy."
The final report for the Floating Solar Energy Hybrid Project can be downloaded from the Marine Institute Open Access Repository at https://oar.marine.ie/handle/10793/1662.
In May 2018, the Marine Institute launched the Industry-Led Call, designed to provide funding for SMEs to raise the maturity levels for their research theme across these three dimensions (human capacity, infrastructure and networks & relationships).
The call aims to fulfil national strategic priorities as follows:
• National Marine Research and Innovation Strategy 2017-2021 - Implementation of Action 8 Increase opportunities for SMEs to participate in marine research.
• Innovation 2020 - Action point 2.4 Optimising Enterprise RDI Supports.
The funding aims to:
• Support research and innovation costs for the development of innovative technologies, products and services from existing or new marine-based business.
• Help marine companies to develop capacity, capability and their networks & relationships.
• Support "novel" marine research that has not previously received funding to create new knowledge or a new product, process or service or to substantially improve existing products, processes or services.
National Marine Research & Innovation Strategy 2017-2021
The National Marine Research & Innovation Strategy focuses on the broad topics identified in existing Government policies and strategies and provides a framework that recognises the complexity of research funding in the marine domain.