Bord Gáis and its Irish tidal energy partner, OpenHydro were awarded exclusive rights to develop a 100MW tidal energy farm off Torr Head on the north coast of Antrim. The project, potentially the first of its kind in the island of Ireland, is expected to be completed by the year 2020.
The award was made by The Crown Estate to Tidal Ventures Ltd. (a joint venture between the two energy companies) as part of Northern Ireland’s Offshore Renewable Energy Strategic Action Plan. Tidal Ventures Ltd, which was established in 2010 with the objective of developing tidal farms, was successful because of the experience of its parent companies in developing large-scale renewable energy projects and specialism in tidal engineering.
Commenting on the announcement, Dave Kirwan, Managing Director, Bord Gáis Energy, said: “This project is a milestone for the development of tidal resources on the island of Ireland and marks our ongoing commitment to renewable assets. Bord Gáis Energy brings an ability to manage large scale infrastructure projects such as Whitegate and our windfarm portfolio together with a track record of financing projects of this scale. This experience is complemented by OpenHydro’s tidal specific experience”.
James Ives, Chief Executive of OpenHydro, said: “We are delighted to be awarded the lease to develop what could the first tidal energy farm in the island of Ireland. Our company’s vision is to deploy arrays of tidal turbines under the world’s oceans, silently and invisibly generating electricity at no cost to the environment. The project will have the capacity to generate 100 MW of energy – enough to power over 75,000 homes in Northern Ireland. Our partnership with Bord Gáis Energy was a key factor in securing this award; combining OpenHydro’s proven technology with Bord Gáis Energy’s experience in delivering large scale infrastructure energy projects.”
Electricity produced by tidal energy is completely renewable since it relies on tides that are created by the gravitational effect of the sun and moon, which also makes it entirely predictable.
OpenHydro’s tidal turbines are located on the seabed beneath the ocean surface and cannot be seen or heard.
Press Release, October 23, 2012; Image: the crown estate