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LQD: Renewable Energy in Ireland

by Frank Schnittger Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 10:22:37 AM EST

Wave energy is one of the great virtually untapped renewable energy sources on the planet and OceanEnergy is one of a number of Irish Companies intent on capturing it. Another company in the same market is Wavebob

Irish wave energy technology company Wavebob Ltd. announced today that the EU FP7 R&D programme is to provide grant aid of €5.1 million to a consortium led by Wavebob Ltd, in order to deploy a full-scale pre-commercial, grid-connected wave energy converter (WEC) off the coast of Portugal. The 6-company consortium will invest a further €3.4 million, bringing total funding for the project to over €8.5 million.

Ocean Energy signs turbine deal

Irish wave energy development company Ocean Energy has signed a deal with a US firm in what the company says will be a "major milestone" in the development of wave power in Ireland.

Under the agreement, multinational Dresser-Rand will supply and develop turbines for the Irish company, which Ocean Energy says is an endorsement of its technology.

Thousands of Irish jobs could be created as part of a global wave energy market that is worth an estimated €200 billion each year, Ocean Energy said.


"Capturing just 5 per cent of this theoretical global resource could satisfy 25 per cent of the current global electricity consumption of 18,000 TWh/year."

Meanwhile, the wind energy sector also seems to be moving well ahead of target...

Ireland 'ahead on renewable targets' - The Irish Times - Thu, Mar 04, 2010

Ireland met its targets for generating 15 per cent of electricity from renewable sources by 2010 in January, a conference in Dublin was told this morning.

Addressing the National Summit on Renewable Energy at Croke Park, Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan also revealed that Ireland is on schedule to overshoot its aim of achieving 40 per cent of the State's electricity needs from renewables by 2020.

Mr Ryan said he believed there are no longer any differences between political parties and industry on what needs to be done and the only issue left was the speed of the development of renewable energy.

The Minister also revealed his department was in talks with authorities in Britain on "about three" new electricity interconnectors across the Irish Sea.

He said a new study has got underway in recent days, in conjunction with authorities in Scotland, on the setting up of an undersea grid connection along the Irish Sea bed. This grid would connect wind energy installations in Wales, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland.

The undersea connection would ultimately become part of a larger grid proposed by 10 states in northwestern Europe, which in turn is designed to link into a pan European grid which includes solar energy contributed by Mediterranean countries and Portugal.

Mr Ryan also said new measures would be introduced to coordinate various different incentives available for energy efficiency, such as grants for home and commercial building energy efficiency, with new "obligations" on industry to design and provide for more efficiency.

EirGrid chief executive Dermot Byrne said there were currently 1,260 megawatts of wind energy connected to the Irish grid. In addition, there are 1,300 megawatts under construction and a further 3,990 megawatts would be sanctioned under the next round of allocations.

This would give more than the required 40 per cent by 2020. Even allowing for the possibility that not all of the projects would be built, Mr Byrne said the likelihood was that Ireland's 40 per cent target would be achieved by 2017 or 2018.

He said the development of improvements to the grid, known as "Grid 25" was vital to the success of the plan and he asked conference attendees to support EirGrid's plans for an overhead 400kv North South interconnector on the island. Public consultation on this proposal ends on March 12th.

Mr Byrne said this was a vital piece of infrastructure and would be the largest project to come before An Bord Pleanala's strategic infrastructure arm.

Mr Byrne also announced that a €110 million grant for the East West Interconnector between Ireland and Britain was formally signed off by the European Commission yesterday.

The grant was made under a "stimulus package" approved by the commission last July, which was first announced by Mr Byrne last September

It is in addition to "soft loans" from the European Investment Bank which will see up to €300 million invested in the interconnector. A further allocation of up to €200 million has been approved by the bank for development of the ESB's renewable energy businesses, principally wind farms.

Donal Murphy director of Global Project Finance with Bank of Ireland said there was a danger of a "dropping off" of applications for loans from developers of renewable energy. He said this was because of a perception that no loans were available, but he maintained that perception was mistaken.

Mr Murphy told the conference the bank had a fund of €800 million for renewable energy and this was "certainly not a sector that was being ignored".

I will leave it to the experts here to gauge the true significance of these developments, but it seems to my inexpert eye that the Irish renewables industry is finally getting its act together.

This is a great subject to return to mind, whenever readers look for "investment" alternatives to status quo. Cursory search of the ET archive:

A project using a similar technology is being installed at the mouth of Strangford Lough, near Belfast, Northern Ireland.  This facility will have a capacity of 1. 2 MW and is expected to go into operation by the end of 2007.  The £8. 5 million ($ 16. 8 million) project received a £4. 27 million ($ 8. 4 million) grant from the British Department of Trade & Industry's Technology Program.  The blades on this turbine will be substantially larger than those used in the New York project (11 meters or 36 feet). Finally, Nova Scotia Power is developing a 1 MW facility in the Bay of Fundy using a similar technology, which it estimates will cost $12 to $15 million (Canadian).  The Canadian and U. S.  dollar are currently nearly equivalent in value.  The company believes the facility will begin trial operations in late 2009.  This will be followed by a two-year evaluation of the facility's performance.  If deemed successful, the company will consider expanding the project with additional turbines to a scale of 5 to 25 MW. BAI...

The First Wave Energy Farm of the World
On Tuesday the 23th of September, the deployment of the first commercial wave energy farm in the world started. A Pelamis unit was towed into the sea, connected to an underwater cable and moored to the sea floor, at a site were it will stay for the next 15 years. The Industry was present at the highest level, as so a Minister and even the Navy showed up with a frigate to join the celebration.


Renewable Energy From Tides
Last year I came across the story of Dutch company Kema and their energy island idea - basically a variant on the usual pumped hydro energy storage concept where water is pumped out of a space below sea level then allowed to flow back in, generating power as it does. The "island" uses wind power to pump water out of the enclosed area. An obvious extension to this idea would be to harness ocean energy as well - letting wave and/or tidal power supplement the output of the wind turbines. An attraction of this concept is that it potentially allows a large amount of new energy storage to be brought online - and this storage would be along the world's coastlines, where most of the population lives.


Energy from the Moon
There are three main types of tidal power plants.


The Rance estuary station is a 240mw barrage type plant, the simplest tidal generating system Also known as an ebb generating system it involves a dam, known as a barrage, across an estuary. Sluice gates on the barrage allow the tidal basin to fill on the incoming high tides and to exit through the turbine system on the outgoing, or ebb, tide.

These plants are obviously very expensive to build and environmentally harmful. The environment is changed for many miles upstream and downstream. Many birds rely on the tide uncovering the mud flats so that they can feed. On the other hand, in some cases barrages can protect a large stretch of coastline from damage from high storm tides and they can be used as road bridges. There are relatively few suitable sites for tidal barrages. Currently France, China, and Russia Have barrage plants.


aaaand an ET classic:
shameful, deceitful, lying NIMBY article in NYT

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri Mar 5th, 2010 at 11:15:29 AM EST
Thanks for these sources - it is not a topic I am very knowledgeable on but I felt it worth recording that Ireland expects to exceed its (quite high) 40% renewables target by 2018 or 2019 and also that we are moving beyond existing wind and hydro solutions.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 5th, 2010 at 12:01:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, you're welcome. Manual aggregator, am I, if not thorough.

I'm not knowlegeable on the topics -- engineering requirements, CapEx, distribution costs :) either. But I am rather excited to find signs of growth in this sector. As A Siegel would say, "There's no silver bullet" for the problem of replacing fossil fueled equipment and reducing fossil fuel consumption.

Intuition tells me 40% renewables portfolio isn't insurmountable. Elictricty and HVAC demand is inevitable. Yet the highest hurdle seems always to be persuading private equity bankers to adjust their clients' investment horizons accordingly.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri Mar 5th, 2010 at 12:43:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The wavebob and Ocenaenergy solutions highlighted above don't appear to have any environmental or NIMBY arguments against them and their intermittentcy would also be much less than wind in an ocean environment, so the only remaining argument is about feed-in tarifs to make them economic.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 5th, 2010 at 12:51:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So the only remaining argument is about feed-in tarifs to make them economic profitable.

There, fixed it for you.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 09:01:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't have a problem with prices being set at a level sufficient to make them profitable at a rate consistent with the risks involved - risks that should decline as the technology matures.  The beauty about a lot of this stuff is that costs can become very predictable, and thus the prices required to attract investors/innovators/entrepreneurs etc. should be becoming less and less as economies of scale and improvements in the technology are realised.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 09:27:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
re: economics, profit, "risk"

Leave it Jake :D

I would think, at this point in time Ireland's people are an eviable position --having not much more to lose-- to experiment with fiscal policy to establish capital formation underlying their general welfare rather than simply to encourage innovations in financial capitalism to replace so-called utilities which have failed the populus almost altogther.  

For what is government then, if it will not provide capital for the general welfare of its constituents at cost?

Electricity is such capital. It is a general utility. A market (regulated or unregulated, e.g. "black") will form around whatever technology that reliably produces electricity. Note that the cost of the operations is directly related to the size of the market it serves. The "risk" that privately-owned producers export electricity to remote "end-users" is ambiguous. The "risk" of zero demand --supply in kWh or price/kWh or "unmet demand"-- for it locally is inconceivable under the circumstances, namely, civilization.

The problem for the people therefore is to identify producers and the lowest cost (price) proferred among them. The problem for bureaucrats is thinking differently about resource allocation -- esp. value and scale of credit issued-- that benefits foremost local constituents. The problem for the producer is estimating the profitability of market entry, excluding cost of true risk aka insurable events, for example, "predictable" acts of of GOD.

One barrier to market entry is (conciliation of) investment horizon, as I mentioned. Most entrants arrive by obtaining financing (credit) from private investors who demand repayment plus a premium amount ("interest rate") derived by arcane arithmetic comparisons of similar projects' (interest) rate of return of profits (interest) to the investor. The result often being, volatile retail producer pricing burdened by onerous debt obligations. "Feed-in tariff" financing by government is a low-cost alternative to private sector ursury --because the term of repayment, maturity, is multi-decade.

Another barrier to market entry, surely the most invidious and difficult, figuratively and literally, to deconstruct, is incumbents' pooling, in this case MNC utility companies and transmission line operators. "Feed-in tariff" legislation by government is a low-cost alternative to entrants financing (i) extortion (ii) bribes, (iii) wholesale "discounts", (iv) litigation, (v) customer switching costs.

from Policy Action: Feed-in Tariff (Price) Law

1. Access Objective: Oblige utility companies --generators and distributors-- to buy energy from renewable energy producers
2a. Price Objective: Fix the wholesale price an energy company pays per unit of electricity produced.
2b. Guarantee price payment and spread to producers over a specified period (effectively, a bond issue). The result (spread = R-W) being that an increase in retail price of unit electricity per household is "very small" inversely related to the total number of installed customers per utility company service area.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 04:25:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
what is government then, if it will not provide capital for the general welfare of its constituents at cost?

But that is unacceptable government meddling in the operation of the free market! Or something.

You heretic...

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 04:37:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Virtually all Irish utilities were state owned until the EU forced us to privatise them - It's those bloody French and their neo-lib ideas...

  1. Aer Lingus - air transport
  2. ESB=Electricity Supply Board - still state owned but forced to sell power to "wholesalers" who re-sell to end-users at a profit (allegedly to eliminate a near monopoly)
  3. Bord Gas - Gas distribution,
  4. Eircom - used to be state monopoly telecoms operator
  5. Bord Na Mona - state peat/turf produced (Ireland has virtually no coal)
  6. Córas Iompair Éireann - Public transport near monopoly
  7. Voluntary Health Insurance Board (Public option a la USA)
  8. Radio Telefís Éireann (Pub;ic broadcaster
  9. An Post (The Post Office)
  10. Coillte Teoranta (The Irish Forestry Board)

And dozens more already privatised... in shipping, sugar production, fertilisers, life insurance, hotels, banking etc.

We used to have what you guys often advocate!

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 05:07:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll take that as a compliment.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 09:21:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ireland should have great potential for both wind and wave.

My impression of wave technology is that it is at least ten years behind wind when it comes to development and technological maturity. But I could be wrong. Anyone care to correct me?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 02:30:22 PM EST
My impression is that you are correct - there are a number of pilot developments using various technologies, but nothing large scale - other than a few turbines strung across a suitable tidal estuary which is not a universal solution.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 06:30:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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