Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney TD has officially opened Ireland’s only Ocean Testing Facility in Cork.
Located in the €20 million UCC Environmental Research Institute (ERI) Beaufort building, Lir – the National Ocean Test Facility provides world-class laboratory testing for offshore wind, wave and tidal energy devices. The state of the art facilities at Lir include four wave tanks that can replicate real ocean conditions and enable testing of various marine innovations, technologies and structures at different scales. As well as the ocean test infrastructure, Lir also offers a highly experienced team of researchers and operators.
Speaking at the opening of Lir, Tánaiste Simon Coveney said, “Lir, the National Ocean Test Facility is key to the development of Ireland’s offshore renewable energy industry and marine research sector. As a key piece of infrastructure in the SFI MaREI Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy it provides an invaluable resource for industry, researchers and state institutions to facilitate testing of innovative ocean energy technologies and devices for marine systems. The ERI, MaREI and Lir are vital enablers of Ireland’s blue economy, allowing both indigenous and international companies to develop renewable energy systems that will ultimately have real impact in how we generate energy from our oceans.”
Professor Patrick G. O’Shea, President University College Cork said “When you consider the energy and environmental challenges society faces globally, research to unlock the potential of our oceans can provide future solutions. University College Cork has been an acknowledged leader in marine energy research for many years, and we have been part of the Lir journey since its designation as a National Facility in 2009. Today is a proud day to see Lir become a vital part of Ireland’s national ocean energy test infrastructure. We are looking forward to working with government departments and agencies in ensuring that the full capacity and potential of Lir to the research community and Irish economy are realised.”
The Ministerial party toured the Lir facility, a 2,600 m2 tank hall reviewing the Deep Ocean Basin tank, Ocean Basin tank and Electrical Laboratory, and also experienced the wave and current flume capabilities of the tanks, as well as the wave watch flume and adjustable beach.
UCC’s Dr. Jimmy Murphy and Lead at Lir said, “The diversity of activities at Lir reflect the numerous commercial opportunities that offshore renewable energy presents. We are supporting companies by de-risking their technologies through our extensive testing capability including towing, installation, performance and survivability testing. We also operate in the broader marine sector as we have the capacity to test any structure that can be fabricated at a smaller scale. As well as renewable energy devices and systems, Lir can also be used to test oil and gas platforms, aquaculture cages, vessels, breakwaters and coastal protection structures. The Lir facility will accelerate Ireland’s marine sector development, and we look forward to supporting indigenous and international companies, institutions, academia and researchers in this important sector.”
The Lir Infrastructure represents a capital investment of c.€10m, with infrastructure funded by HEA and Bord Gais (under PRTLI), DCCAE and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland and support from the IDA and Port of Cork. Additional funding was received from DAFM and subsequent capital and equipment awards from Science Foundation Ireland and the Marine Institute won by, and enabled through, MaREI in the Environmental Research Institute at UCC. Lir receives ongoing support from SEAI through their Ocean Energy Programme.
By Jake Frith