Ireland, North and South, and Scotland are world leaders in the field of ocean energy and are endowed with substantial wave and tidal resources, excellent and growing Research and Development capacity and are home to many of the world’s leading companies in this field. Historically, Scotland has been ahead of Ireland in developing ocean energy, principally because of the strong commitment of Scottish political leaders to winning a commanding position for Scotland in the industry. On the island of Ireland, Northern Ireland has made commendable progress in exploiting its tidal resource but the Republic of Ireland has been the laggard despite its world-beating wave resource and its significant R&D effort. The position is changing in the Republic with positive signs of Government support including a new Bill to transform the consenting system (‘planning permission’) offshore while the Ocean Renewable Energy Development Plan is imminent.
Despite the progress, ocean energy in both Ireland and Scotland faces formidable challenges: the technology has a distance to travel before it reaches commercial ubiquity; the finance required to commercialise the technology is substantial; and there are significant issues of market access, particularly in Scotland, because, for example, wave and tidal resources tend to be distant from major grid capacity.
This Paper was drawn up to examine the scope for the various parties – particularly the Republic of Ireland and Scotland but also Northern Ireland– to work together. It is based on the views of a wide range of interests, mostly in Government and Industry, who expressed remarkably similar views regardless of geographical location. The Paper ends with a series of recommendations and suggests that these might form a series of work streams for the British Irish Council’s Marine Energy Committee.