Tues 2nd September 2008

Govt told get finger out on wave energy

The Council for the West has called for a much more vigorous and enterprising approach from the Government to extract the enormous potential that ocean technology holds for electricity generation.

While conceding that Government commitment had been demonstrated on a number of fronts, the Council said the sum total of all the initiatives proposed hardly measured up to the challenge or the dynamism required.

Council for the West Chairman Sean Hannick has accused the Government of talking the talk without walking the walk. “It is incredible that at a time when oil and gas prices are going through the roof as supplies diminish we seem to take the laid-back approach of depending on others when we should be right at the forefront in developing the enormous potential of our massive wave power along the west coast, not to mention wind energy,” he said.

“We may not lead the way in the development of wind energy technology, but when it comes to wave and tidal-stream power we are at the cutting-edge of this technology in terms of research and development. Irish-built prototypes for wave power generators have been tested off Galway, and a full-scale model will be linked to the national grid in Mayo.”

Mr Hannick said members of the Council for the West recently visited the Marine Institute in Galway and was very impressed by the research being carried out there. The Marine Institute's Real Map of Ireland, showing the nation's marine territory of 220 million acres under the sea, over ten times its land area, was a real eye opener

and deserved the fullest attention because of its incredible potential.

“In terms of our wave energy, however, where is the sense of urgency, the attitude of get up and go from the top? It’s just not there, sadly.  Even the United States ambassador to Ireland, Thomas P Foley, has expressed frustration at the possibility of a lost opportunity for Ireland, remarking that opportunities like this can be wasted and that ‘a greater sense of urgency was required” if we are to develop the know-how and the technological clusters required to head the world charge.”

Mr Hannick said it was utterly ridiculous that we import 90 per cent of our energy requirements by way of oil, coal and gas, and yet had shown no real urgency in getting a grip on the hugely valuable natural resources we possess.

He said the development of wave power possessed the potential to create huge numbers of jobs while at the same time “lessening our crazily lop-sided dependence on other states to keep our homes lit and our factories firing. And perhaps even more beneficial in the long term could be the marketability of these new technologies that would surely find a ready market in the rest of the world.”

“At a time when the economy is going through a hard time the tendency may be there to cut back on research and development in this field, but should now know enough to realise that this is the time to take our courage in our hands and press ahead with a vigorous programme of investment so that we can exploit to the fullest - and in the shortest possible time - the great advantage we hold over our EU neighbours who cannot match our off-shore energy along the west coast of Ireland,” said Mr Hannick.

*ENDS*

Note to Editors:

The Council for the West is a voluntary, independent, non-political body which monitors and reports on the socio-economic state of the West and acts as a lobby group promoting the development of the West. The Council for the West was set up by the Western Bishops and has successfully campaigned for retention of Objective 1 Status for the region.  It continues to campaign for balanced regional development and highlights issues of major concern for the region.

Contact Points:

Public Relations Officer:   Terry Reilly 086 8109518 / 096 21603 / email: terryreilly@eircom.net

Co-ordinator:                     Caroline Wilson, Tel: 096 32975 / email: cftwest@iol.ie


Spokepersons:

Sean Hannick:             087 2564824

Michael McGarrigle:    0868627605