Members of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Change
and Energy Security visited Galway for detailed briefings
on the Marine Institute’s programme to understand the key
drivers of climate change in Ireland by studying forces at
work in the Atlantic Ocean.
The delegation - which included Senators Ned O’Sullivan and
Paudie Coffey, Deputies Simon Coveney, Ciaran Cuffe, Andrew
Doyle and Liz McManus, as well as the Committee Chairman Seán
Barrett and Clerk Michael McKenna - also spent time at sea
during a visit to the ocean energy wave power test site at
Spiddal Co. Galway. This site, which is operated jointly by
the Institute and Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI), is part
of the national programme to encourage the exploitation of
renewable sources of energy.
“The behaviour of the Gulf Stream and other important Atlantic
currents have a direct impact on our weather” - said Dr. Peter
Heffernan, CEO of the Institute. “This, in turn, effects food
production - both at sea and on the land - as well as extreme
oceanic events, such as high waves and tides.
"This is why we’re working with key partners in government,
the third-level sector and industry to develop a major flagship
initiative to position Ireland as a global leader in the development
and use of new technologies such as Smartbay - which
uses wireless aquatic sensor networks to monitor the marine
environment - as well as underwater observatory systems to
understand and measure the pace and impact of new trends in
our ocean environment caused by climate change.”
The Committee also witnessed an example of the application
of technology to the challenge of sustainable energy production
during its visit to the OE Buoy - a quarter-scale prototype
designed and built by the Cork-based company Ocean Energy
Ltd, currently under test at the Galway Bay site.
Another device, developed by Wavebob Ltd., has also been
tested on the site in recent months. This sustainable energy
device generates electricity from the rise and fall of a semi-submerged
chamber within a floating collar. The Marine Institute has
undertaken extensive work on the location for a second, grid-connected
test site, off the west coast, where full-scale wave energy
devices can be trialled.
The Committee also attended a further briefing on other aspects
of the Marine Institute’s work on ocean climate change and
marine resource management at the Institute’s headquarters
and laboratory facilities at Oranmore, Co. Galway.
“Research into the effects of climate change on the North
Atlantic is, therefore, one of the most important work programmes
being undertaken by the Marine Institute. It is only through
this kind of collaborative approach that we can ever hope
to develop a holistic ecosystem approach to the present and
future management of our fisheries and ocean resources” -
said Dr. Heffernan.
These projects are all part of the national programme Sea
Change - A Marine Knowledge, Research and Innovation Strategy
for Ireland 2007-2013, which is being co-ordinated by the
Institute. Its objective is to apply the tools of research
and innovation to boost Ireland’s marine economy from its
present value of €3 billion per annum to €4.5 billion within