The island of Ireland faces an economically transformative opportunity in ocean energyenergy generated from waves and tides. The independent SQW report forecasts substantial income and job potential, particularly in the 2020’s when ocean energy technology is likely to reach maturity and to be deployed on a commercial scale. The opportunity will be realised on two planes- enterprise (e.g. development of the supply chain in Ireland to support the industry not only here but elsewhere in Europe) and export (e.g. through interconnectors to the UK and elsewhere).
A key factor in determining Ireland’s success in this challenging industry will be the quality and availability of appropriately skilled graduates from the Universities and the Institutes of Technology and other bodies, notably in engineering. This Paper presents the findings of a review of this issue by the Marine Renewables Industry Association with expert bodies and with those involved in the emerging ocean energy industry. The principal findings were:
- There is substantial capacity in engineering education on the island
- The supply of engineers is reasonable at present although shortages are discerned in the key field of electrical engineering and there is concern about the overall numbers entering the profession
- The opportunities in ocean energy will be modest to 2015 at least but could be very significant in the 2020s
- Ocean energy will principally require engineers with a robust, core degree in the traditional disciplines of civil, electrical and mechanical engineering.
- Little value is attached by the ocean energy industry to the various ‘energy engineering’ qualifications increasingly on offer
- Providing real experience of working in the tough offshore environment to engineers is a big challenge for ocean energy
- The industry- and other experts- would like to see a Masters degree programme in ocean energy engineering which draws off the expertise in specific fields of individual colleges and which is designed in conjunction with the industry to the highest international standards The MRIA will work with appropriate bodies to address the issues identified by this Paper.