Author: Shane Quill, offshore environmental & consents advisor, OpenHydro
“There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads to fortune.”
In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, we see Brutus urging his comrades to seize a sudden opportunity that has arisen. Today, Northern Ireland seeks to do likewise and capitalise on the chance to be a world leader in tidal energy. Tidal Ventures Ltd, a joint venture between Bord Gáis Energy and OpenHydro, is eager to help realise this goal.
Northern Ireland has set itself a challenging target of ensuring that 40% of its electricity consumption comes from renewable resources by 2020. It is envisaged that this increased commitment to renewable energy will improve security and diversity of energy supply and support economic activity, while at the same time contributing to reduced carbon emissions (DETI Strategic Energy Framework 2010).
In response to this target, the UK's Crown Estate launched the offshore wind and tidal leasing rounds in December 2011. By October 2012, it had awarded an agreement for lease to Tidal Ventures Ltd to develop a commercial-scale tidal energy array offshore of Torr Head on the north coast of County Antrim.
The award was made as part of Northern Ireland’s Offshore Renewable Energy Strategic Action Plan (ORESAP) and was the result of a competitive tender process. Current site projections suggest that the project has the capacity to generate 100MW of energy – enough to power over 75,000 homes in Northern Ireland by 2020.
Tidal Ventures, a collaboration between Bord Gáis Energy and OpenHydro, is well placed to develop this 100MW tidal array in Northern Ireland by virtue of the expertise at its disposal. Bord Gáis Energy brings extensive experience in the financing and management of large-scale energy projects, from feasibility through to operation and maintenance phases.
OpenHydro is a DCNS company (the French naval defence company is developing its interests in marine renewable technology). Openhydro is a technology business that designs, manufactures and installs tidal energy systems. It has global experience in developing tidal projects, with the intention of providing a cost-effective source of renewable energy that is in harmony with the environment.
BENEFITS OF TIDAL FOR NORTHERN IRELAND
[caption id="attachment_6512" align="alignright" width="635"] Tidal Ventures' site off Torr Head[/caption]
Achieving Northern Ireland’s target of 40% by 2020 will ultimately depend on a blend of renewable technologies that include wind, wave, biomass and solar, all working in unison. Tidal will play a significant part in this mix and the project proposed for Torr Head would have the following unique benefits: