Energy futureIrish company claims wave power success

Published 17 October 2007

A quarter-scale prototype wave energy converter is successfully harnessing electricity from Atlantic Ocean waves off the west coast of Ireland

Wavebob, a rather ungainly, bright yellow floating buoy device which automatically adjusts to the size of the waves to maximise the amount of power it produces, is now undergoing trials off Spiddal, County Galway. “This is a giant leap forward for renewable energy production in Ireland,” says Andrew Parish, the CEO of Maynooth, County Kildare, Ireland-based Wavebob (the device and the company share the same name). “As an island in the middle of the energetic Atlantic Ocean, Ireland can be to wave-energy what Saudi Arabia is to oil. The more we exploit this unlimited natural resource, the better it will be, not just for the global environment, but also for the Irish consumer’s pocket,” he said.

The quarter-scale prototype device involved in the trials is not connected to the national grid. At full scale, each Wavebob device will be capable of producing in excess of a megawatt — enough electricity for 1,000 homes. Part of the strategy of Ireland’s energy minister Eamon Ryan, a member of the Green Party, is to have 500 megawatts of ocean energy installed by 2020. Wavebob has invested more than €4.0 million in research and development over the past six years.

The company’s partners include Chevron, Georgia Tech Research Institute, University College Cork and National University of Ireland, Maynooth.