County Kildare-based Wavebob will receive more than €1.8million from the US Department of Energy, as part of a lucrative contract to develop its eponymous wave energy converter (WEC).

Three years ago, the Wavebob was among the first WECs in the world to successfully produce electricity from ocean swell and after development, is now capable of delivering in excess of one megawatt of energy – sufficient to power 600 homes.

The device is akin to a floating buoy that automatically adjusts itself in the water to suit the ocean’s wave activity; maximising the amount of power that can be delivered to the electricity grid on shore.

The Stateside funding was awarded specifically to develop Wavebob’s power take-off device; the system used to draw energy from the buoy.

Wavebob were restrained in commenting on the grant, which makes up just a portion of a $37million package in marine and hydrokinetic energy grants announced by the US Department recently.

President of Wavebob’s US operations, Derek Robertson, said the Department’s overall grant allocation was ‘vital’ to the international development of ocean energy, adding that all at the company were “honoured” to be working with the US government and other ‘distinguished leaders in maritime technology.’

In a funding coup, however, an additional grant from this side of the Atlantic was also announced last week by Ireland’s energy minister, Eamon Ryan.

Mr Ryan confirmed Wavebob would receive a further €1.8million to bolster its green efforts from Irish energy firm Bord Gáis – which is majority owned by the Irish government.

In announcing Bord Gáis’ grant, the Minister said that renewable energy was “the way forward” for the nation, adding that the government are absolutely committed to its development and commercialisation.

He said: “Wavebob is an innovative Irish company that is thriving even in this tough economic climate, securing one investment after another from major energy utilities at home and abroad.

“The recognition of Wavebob’s potential goes to show that as the effects of climate change become increasingly evident, the exploitation of new, clean energy sources is becoming more and more urgent.

“The Irish government will continue our absolute commitment to the emergent ocean energy sector and to encouraging the work of world-class companies such as Wavebob.”

Sam Plester

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