Ireland logs ocean energy innovation challenges

Illustration/OE energy buoy (Photo: OceanEnergy)

Marine Renewables Industry Association (MRIA) has published a study on collaboration and innovation challenges faced by the ocean energy sector which also provides possible solutions for the identified issues.

The association, representing the interests of marine renewable energy developers on the island of Ireland, said Ireland is well positioned to exploit its ocean energy resources due to existence of significant R&D facilities and supportive government policies.

However, MRIA pointed out that the ‘ongoing saga’ of the new consenting regime to be set out in the Maritime Area and Foreshore (Amendment) Bill presents an issue.

Of wider concern, according to the paper, is the small scale of almost all ocean energy companies and their failure to collaborate on R&D.

“Ocean energy companies are unique – small, with limited financial resources and yet engaged in capital intensive innovation on the frontiers of man’s knowledge. They have been quite effective in advancing our knowledge of how to convert the kinetic energy contained in waves and tides into electricity,” the study states.

According to MRIA, the developers can do more with greater intercompany collaboration and with tailored company development support from the agency with experience and expertise in ocean energy, such as Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).

The recommendations made by MRIA, set out by research and industry views, boil down to giving SEAI the remit, under a special protocol with Enterprise Ireland, to provide company development support to ocean energy firms in their early years.

The recommendations, if implemented, could make the difference between Ireland playing a lead role in this potentially huge industry of tomorrow and being an ‘also ran’ in the sector, the association said.

The study is the tenth annual paper published by the association about policy topics relevant to marine renewables.

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