Upgrade planned for Galway Bay Marine and Renewable Energy Test Site

Waves. Image credit Cushla DromgoolRegan The Marine Institute has applied to the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government for a foreshore lease for the Galway Bay Marine and Renewable Energy Test site where prototype marine renewable energy technology can be tested at reduced scale to determine viability in an ocean environment. We are not seeking permission to install three wind turbines in Galway Bay, as reported today.

The Galway Bay Marine and Renewable Energy Test site has been in operation since 2006 when it was established by the Marine Institute and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland. The current lease application aims to allow for a wider range of devices to be tested for defined periods on the site, which would potentially include floating wind energy devices. There is currently interest from marine technology companies to test wave energy devices on the site, but we have not yet had any request for testing prototype wind energy devices.

Only three devices can be deployed at any one time on the site, and given the cost of developing a prototype device (up to €1m to build and test a device), only one prototype of a particular device would normally be tested at any given time. We would envisage that, at full capacity, the site may have up to three different types of devices being tested. The purpose of the site is to allow technology innovators to test the viability of small scale prototypes in an ocean environment.

Regarding the height of the devices on the site, there was an error in the lease application form that we are in the process of correcting.

A prototype floating wind turbine being tested on the site could have a blade tip at maximum 35m above sea level while wave energy converters would be up to 5m above sea level. (Not 60m and 30m respectively as stated in the application and reported by some media).

A public consultation process will be launched in the coming weeks running until late May. Observations on the application will be invited by the foreshore licensing unit of the Department of the Environment.

The Marine Institute plans to hold a public information evening as part of the consultation (date and venue to be confirmed when the public consultation is launched).

The Galway Bay Marine and Renewable Energy Test site will have no connection to the national grid. It is part of the Ocean Energy national test and demonstration infrastructure as outlined in the national Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan (OREDP). The test site has no direct commercial/sell on value.