The Chief Executive of Clare County Council has described the European Commission’s decision to award €23 million to a wave energy project off the Clare coast as a positive endorsement of the polices adopted locally to support renewable energy production projects.
ESB WestWave is proposing to develop the first wave energy project in Ireland by 2018 off Killard in West Clare, generating an initial 5MW of electricity which is equivalent to the electricity consumption of households in nearby Kilrush and Kilkee.
Council Chief Executive Tom Coughlan says the harnessing of clean renewable electricity from the plentiful wave energy resource available off Clare’s coast is one of key objectives of the County Clare Renewable Energy Strategy 2014-2020. Earlier this year, Clare County Council became one of the first local authorities in the country to incorporate such a Strategy into their County Development Plan.
Among the targets set out in the strategy, Mr. Coughlan noted, is for the local authority to facilitate the attainment of 20MW from wave energy by 2020 in line with national policy, proper planning and sustainable development.
“Clare County Council is taking a proactive approach to facilitating renewable energy development and through the Renewable Energy Strategy is helping to guide the location and development of various renewable energy proposals, such as the ESB WestWave project,” explained Mr. Coughlan.
He continued: “Wave and tidal technology is currently focused on research, testing and pilot deployment. The Council has committed itself over the next 6 years to working in partnership with the marine renewable energy sector, the Department of the Environment, EirGrid and other relevant stakeholders to ensure that the coast off Clare is a flagship project location for pre-commercial stage testing, experimental deployment and demonstration purposes in the medium term (2017-2020) and will play a significant role in exporting power in the longer term (2030-2050).”
“The wave and tidal resource off the Clare coast has the potential to offer a significant source of renewable energy, along with associated spin off supporting industry such as construction, distribution and information communications technology (ICT). Clare County Council will continue to work to ensure that the County delivers the maximum possible share of this potential,” added Mr. Coughlan.
Cllr. John Crowe, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council commented: “A clear opportunity exists in Ireland, and particularly in County Clare, to exploit renewable energy resources for the betterment of the local community, the wider economy and the environment. This is highlighted in the Department’s Ocean Renewable Energy Development Plan (OREDP) which points to West Clare’s abundant wave, tidal and wind resources.”
“By supporting proposals such as the wave energy project near Doonbeg, the Council is helping to deliver significant, positive economic spinoffs for the local community and wider region, as well as helping the County and country become more energy secure and less reliant on traditional fossil fuels, enabling future energy export and meeting assigned targets,” concluded the Cathaoirleach.
ESB WestWave is one of 19 projects in 12 EU Member States to receive funding under the European Commission’s NER 300 funding programme. ESB WestWave is the only Irish project to receive funding under this scheme. For more visit www.westwave.ie. Meanwhile, a copy of the County Clare Renewable Energy Strategy 2014-2020 may be downloaded from www.clarecoco.ie.