This Paper was prepared and published by the Marine Renewables Industry Association (MRIA) with the generous support of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland. The MRIA represents the marine renewables emerging technologies on the island of Ireland, although this Paper focuses on wave and tidal energy (‘ocean energy’). This is the tenth annual Paper published by the Association about policy topics relevant to marine renewables.
The jobs and income potential of ocean energy globally is well documented (see recent MRIA Papers at www.mria.ie for detail on this) and Ireland is uniquely qualified to exploit this given our abundant wave resource off the West coast (and a significant tidal resource in Northern Ireland) as well as our significant R&D facilities and supportive Government policies, although the ongoing saga of the new consenting regime to be set out in the Maritime Area and Foresh ore (Amendment) Bill is an issue. Of wider concern is the small scale of almost all ocean energy companies - Ireland is home to about 9% of the global population at present - 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. They could do more with greater intercompany collaboration and with tailored company development support from the agency with experience and expertise in ocean energy, Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).
This Paper deals with these issues and sets out the research and industry views which led to the actions recommended. The recommendations 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 one field where we have a natural resource of scale.