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'Ocean Observatory' For Galway Bay

17th April 2015
'Ocean Observatory' For Galway Bay

#MarineScience - A subsea cable laid from the RV Celtic Explorer in Galway Bay this week marks a major milestone in the development of Ireland's national marine research and development infrastructure.

The four-kilometre cable and a frame to which sensors and monitoring equipment will be attached are part of the development of an ocean observatory in Galway Bay connecting the Galway Bay Ocean Energy Test Site to the shore at Spiddal, Co Galway.

The cable will supply power to the site and allow unlimited data transfer from the site for researchers testing innovative marine technology including renewable ocean energy devices.

The Marine Institute and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) have been working together to promote and develop Ireland's ocean energy potential, and this project – with partners SmartBay Ltd, UCC (MarEI - Marine Renewable Energy Ireland), and Dublin City University – is part of a programme to enhance the Galway Bay Ocean Energy Test Site.

A suite of sensors and environmental monitoring equipment will be installed on the cable end frame this summer, as well a floating 'sea station' which will give developers real-time data on how their devices are performing in the ocean.

"Ireland's sea area is around 10 times the size of our land area and with one of the best offshore renewable energy resources in the world, the opportunities to harness the power of the ocean are immense," says Marine Minister Simon Coveney.

"The new facilities at the Galway Bay Ocean Energy Test site will attract companies and researchers developing marine technology and renewable ocean energy equipment, and will position Ireland at the forefront of these emerging sectors by developing an expert indigenous supply chain that will expand as these sectors grow.

"The ocean observatory will also enhance our ability to monitor the ocean and better understand how it works, which is critical to tackling issues such as climate change."

Energy Minister Alex White adds that "offshore renewable energy has the potential to be a major component of Ireland's future energy mix and it is vital that we facilitate developments like this one in Galway Bay.

"Over time, the introduction of ocean energy into Ireland's renewables portfolio will enhance the security of Ireland's energy supply, deliver green growth, and add to the 47,000 jobs already supported by our energy sector.

"Government support for ocean research, development and demonstration has been increasing with €16.8 million added to my department's multi-annual ocean energy development budget between 2013 and 2016, bringing the total cumulative funding to over €26 million."

Instrument nodes and sensor packages to be installed at the Galway Bay Ocean Energy Test Site this summer will contribute to marine sectors including environmental monitoring, shipping, maritime security and education.

Extensive historical wave and weather data is also available for this site since 2008 and is available to potential device developers.

The new research infrastructure is expected to position Galway Bay as a unique world-class ocean energy test site.

The addition of a cabled ocean observatory means Ireland will also play an important role in the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance between Europe, the USA and Canada under the Galway Statement signed at the Marine Institute Galway in May 2013 – and under which the RV Celtic Explorer will undertake the first transatlantic mapping survey between Galway and Newfoundland this coming June.

The cable project is funded in part by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) under its Research Infrastructure Call 2012 which contributed €2.2m to the project. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine contributed an additional €600,000 to the project in 2014. The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources will fund additional infrastructure and the ongoing operations of the Galway Bay test site through the SEAI Ocean Energy Programme.


More information on the project will be available at www.marine.ie and www.oceanenergyireland.com.

Published in Marine Science
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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Marine Science Perhaps it is the work of the Irish research vessel RV Celtic Explorer out in the Atlantic Ocean that best highlights the essential nature of marine research, development and sustainable management, through which Ireland is developing a strong and well-deserved reputation as an emerging centre of excellence. From Wavebob Ocean energy technology to aquaculture to weather buoys and oil exploration these pages document the work of Irish marine science and how Irish scientists have secured prominent roles in many European and international marine science bodies.

 

At A Glance – Ocean Facts

  • 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by the ocean
  • The ocean is responsible for the water cycle, which affects our weather
  • The ocean absorbs 30% of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity
  • The real map of Ireland has a seabed territory ten times the size of its land area
  • The ocean is the support system of our planet.
  • Over half of the oxygen we breathe was produced in the ocean
  • The global market for seaweed is valued at approximately €5.4 billion
  • · Coral reefs are among the oldest ecosystems in the world — at 230 million years
  • 1.9 million people live within 5km of the coast in Ireland
  • Ocean waters hold nearly 20 million tons of gold. If we could mine all of the gold from the ocean, we would have enough to give every person on earth 9lbs of the precious metal!
  • Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector in the world – Ireland is ranked 7th largest aquaculture producer in the EU
  • The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest ocean in the world, covering 20% of the earth’s surface. Out of all the oceans, the Atlantic Ocean is the saltiest
  • The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world. It’s bigger than all the continents put together
  • Ireland is surrounded by some of the most productive fishing grounds in Europe, with Irish commercial fish landings worth around €200 million annually
  • 97% of the earth’s water is in the ocean
  • The ocean provides the greatest amount of the world’s protein consumed by humans
  • Plastic affects 700 species in the oceans from plankton to whales.
  • Only 10% of the oceans have been explored.
  • 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year, equal to dumping a garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.
  • 12 humans have walked on the moon but only 3 humans have been to the deepest part of the ocean.

(Ref: Marine Institute)

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