Annual Report 2016
Country Reports


Declan Meally Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland


Ireland has a unique ladder of development and test site infrastructure, allowing developers to move from laboratory test facilities at the Lir National Ocean Test facility in Cork, to a quarter scale test bed in Galway Bay and to a full test facility at the Atlantic Marine Energy Test Site (AMETS) near Belmullet, Co. Mayo. Significant steps were taken to further develop these facilities in 2016.

Galway Bay Marine and Renewable Energy Test Site
Ireland’s ¼ scale ocean energy test site is located within the Galway Bay Marine and Renewable Energy Test Site and is situated 1.5 km offshore in water depths ranging from 20 m – 23 m. The site has provided test and validation facilities for a number of wave energy devices and components to date. 2016 saw the formal launch of the subsea observatory at the site, with a four kilometre cable providing a physical link to the shore at Spiddal, Co. Galway. The ocean observatory enables the use of cameras, probes and sensors to permit continuous and remote live underwater monitoring. The cable supplies power to the site and allows unlimited data transfer from the site for researchers testing innovative marine technology including renewable ocean energy devices.

The installation of this infrastructure was the result of the combined efforts of the Marine Institute, SEAI, the Commissioners of Irish Lights, Smartbay Ireland and the Marine Renewable Energy Ireland (MaREI) Centre. The project was part funded under the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) “Research Infrastructure Call” in 2012. The SeaPower platform, a quarter-scaled wave energy converter, was successfully deployed to the site in November 2016. The scaled wave energy converter has been feeding back both energy and survivability data since.

Atlantic Marine Energy Test Site (AMETS)
The Atlantic Marine Energy Test Site (AMETS) is being developed by SEAI to facilitate testing of full scale wave energy converters in an open and energetic ocean environment. AMETS will be located off Annagh Head, west of Belmullet in County Mayo and will be connected to the national grid. It is currently envisaged that the site will provide two separate test locations at water depths of 50m and 100m to allow for a range of devices to be tested, though the potential to facilitate testing at shallower depths or the testing of other technologies such as floating wind is being investigated.

The infrastructure to support testing at AMETS continues to be advanced. Working in conjunction with SEAI, Mayo County Council upgraded port facilities in the area ensuring both local fishermen and developers ease of access. Planning permission for the onshore aspects of the site, including the electrical substation, was submitted in 2016. Crucially, the Foreshore Lease for AMETS was signed by the Minister of Environment Communities and Local Government in late 2015. This was the culmination of a detailed assessment and approval process and provides the legal basis for operating the test site.


SEAI’s Ocean Energy Prototype Development Fund supports a range of technology demonstration projects. Recent examples include:

GKinetic Ltd. is a Co. Limerick based developer of a submerged tidal energy device composing of twin, multi-bladed, vertical axis turbines mounted either side of a tear drop shaped ‘bluff body’ that will be moored to the seabed. The concept has undergone staged development, in line with industry best practice. Previous testing has been undertaken at NUI Galway, the IFREMER flow tank facility at Boulonge-Dur-Mer in France and numerical modelling for design optimisation. GKinetic conducted a series towing tests of a 1/10th scale version of the turbine system in Limerick Docks in late 2015 in order to understand and assess the performance of the technology, and will re-deploy in 2017 for more advanced testing.

SeaPower Ltd. is a Co. Sligo based R&D and engineering company who have developed a wave attenuator device called the SeaPower Platform. Since its conception in 2008, SeaPower have progressed from numerical modelling and design, to tank testing in Cork, and now to the open sea Galway Bay Marine and Renewable Energy Test Site. The company have received support from the SEAI Prototype Development Fund throughout its development, and phase 1 of the current project saw the device deployed to the quarter-scaled Galway Bay test site in November 2016. Since deployment, the company have been continually receiving wave energy data and assessing survivability in open sea winter conditions.

Phase 2 is expected to commence in 2017.

SeaPower Platform at Foynes Port, Co. Limerick in 2016 (left). The SeaPower Platform being towed to the Galway Bay test site in 2016 (right).


ESB’s WestWave project aims to develop a 5 MW wave energy project off the west coast of Ireland, at a site near Killard, Co. Clare. The current phase of the project is developing the foundations for this project to allow the capital investment and procurement phase. Ongoing activity includes to securing the required permits, conducting site investigations, including detailed wave measurements, and to developing the design and functional specification of the project. It is anticipated that applications for the site’s Foreshore Lease and onshore planning permission will be lodged in 2017.