The Irish government has granted a foreshore lease to the Marine Institute to install a quarter scale renewable energy test site at Galway Bay.
The Galway Bay Marine and Renewable Energy Test Site is required to meet one of the Irish government’s stated objectives of producing 50GW from ocean energy by 2050 set out it the Ocean Renewable Energy Development Plan (OREDP).
The aim of the test facility is to assist offshore renewable energy developers to move from the drawing board and model testing in University College Cork to open ocean demonstration of their devices.
The lease, granted for 35 years, will enable the testing of wave energy devices, as well as floating offshore wind turbines. However, the testing of floating offshore wind turbines has been restricted to one device at any given time.
Damien English, Ireland’s Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development, said: “This lease is not part of any future commercial offshore renewable energy generating facility. I have consented to this application on the basis that there is no provision to export power from the test site to the National Grid.
“This will help to assure the public that this site is purely for testing of devices and will not result in an offshore electricity generating station in Galway bay.“
The government has also restricted the time period by which the specified devices must be tested to the first 10 years of the 35-year lease.
After the first 10 year period expires, the applications to test devices will require a separate foreshore licence application and will be subject to the full consultation process including a period of public consultation.
“This will help to assure the public that this site is purely for testing of devices and will not result in an offshore electricity generating station in Galway bay,” English added.
The test site has operated as a national quarter scale test facility for the testing of wave energy devices for 10 years under a foreshore lease granted in 2006.
It presents the opportunity for future deployments of up-scaled devices at the consented full-scale, pre-commercial and grid-connected Atlantic Marine Energy Test Site (AMETS) in County Mayo.
There are currently 13 projects at various stages of development waiting for access to the site, the government added.