The Marine Institute headquarters at Oranmore, Co. Galway was honoured last Saturday (6th November) by a visit from US Energy Secretary Prof. Steven Chu, himself a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and long-time advocate of alternative sources of sustainable energy.
This is the latest in a number of VIP visits to the Institute this year, which have included EU-Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn and the Ambassadors to Ireland of both the USA and the United Kingdom, reflecting the growing international recognition of the Institute as a centre of excellence.
During his visit, Professor Chu was briefed by the Institute's CEO Dr Peter Heffernan and members of his senior management team on the Institute's work regarding ocean renewable energy, seabed observatories and the application of "Smart Technology" to ocean monitoring and climate change through such projects as SmartBay and SmartCoast.
He was also briefed on the results of the Irish National Seabed Survey which, at the time of its execution was the largest civilian mapping project in the world, and was given copies of "The Real Map of Ireland" showing the extent of Ireland's underwater territory.
Of particular interest to Prof. Chu, following the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, was a discussion on the use of new and developing technologies that might allow the deployment of sensor devices on the seabed to monitor offshore oil wells.