The proposed AMETS, which is currently under construction, includes both offshore test areas and onshore infrastructure and is designed to accommodate and test fully pre‐commercial technologies in renewable marine energy. Wave energy converters that could be deployed in the test areas will generate power in situ. They will be anchored in water depths of 50m and 100m and can be individual deployments or arrays. These WECs will transmit power through submarine electricity cables to an onshore substation where connection to the distribution electricity grid will occur. The electricity cables will be buried in the seabed and brought to the substation on shore underground.
AMETS is located in the Belmullet area of County Mayo, Ireland. Offshore there are two test areas: Test Area A at 100m water depth is located some 16km out from Belderra Strand; and Test Area B at 50m water depth is located 6km from the strand. Test Area A is 6.9 km2 (2.02 nautical square miles) and Test Area B is 1.5 km2 (0.44 nautical square miles). The onshore element comprises a small substation which will be constructed alongside Belderra Strand. Planning permission for the substation was awarded in April 2017.
The test site is not yet in operation for developers but SEAI can offer interested developers a suite of detailed information such as live met-ocean data measurements, numerical wave modelling reports including wave propagation and wave energy assessments, offshore site investigations including vibrocores and multi-beam surveys.
A foreshore lease was granted and issued by the Minister for the [then] Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government on the 25th November 2015 and entered into force in January 2016. The lease term is for a period of 35 years.
In April 2017, permission was granted for the construction of a 20 kV sub-station to connect the AMETS wave energy test site near Belmullet, Co. Mayo. This permission comprises of a 370 m2 20 kV sub-station and office on a 1.4-hectare site approximately 5km from Belmullet. It also includes the installation of five underground electric cables and associated communication cables which will run from the proposed sub-station for approximately 600m to a cable transition joint bay located at the car park at Belderra Strand. In accordance with the permission granted, the development will be conducted with a construction environmental management plan to be agreed with the planning authority prior to the commencement of development. This plan must include measures to avoid the runoff of any contaminants into European designated sites. The permission granted also has conditions relating to the conservation of the archaeological heritage of the area as well as the preservation (in-situ or by record) and protection of any archaeological remains that may exist within the site.
Noise: Survey of terrestrial noise included in EIA. Construction noise [terrestrial] will be within the limits set by the National Roads Authority (NRA). Marine noise was also considered but this consisted of a literature review rather than actual noise monitoring, primarily due to the fact that no wave energy converters of the type and scale expected to be deployed at AMETS have been constructed yet. Based on existing studies it is anticipated that the potential impacts of noise at AMETS will be of short duration and low.
EMF: No dedicated survey, critique of existing literature and research results along with advice on mitigation methods and monitoring practice.
Water quality: The main impacts on water quality will arise during the construction phase, when cable burial and anchoring operations will generate suspended sediment close to the cables. However, this will quickly settle and there will be only a temporary and insignificant impact on water quality.
Air quality: Considering the low levels of air pollutants in the receiving environment and the rapid dispersion in the area, the impact on air quality from emissions associated with construction, operation and decommissioning of the test site is expected to be negligible.
Environmental Webpage: http://www.oceanenergyireland.com/Planning