Initiative will offer test facilities for marine renewable energy

University College Cork (UCC) is leading a €9m (£7.7m) EU-funded initiative to provide access to test facilities in specialist marine renewable energy centres across Europe.

UCC’s Hydraulics and Maritime Research Centre (HMRC) is leading the ‘MaRINET’ (Marine Renewables Infrastructure Network) scheme, which offers periods of marine renewable energy testing at no cost to participants.

According to a statement, MaRINET supports testing of concepts and devices in areas such as wave energy, tidal energy, offshore-wind energy and the environment, to accelerate Europe-wide development of marine renewable energy.

The funding seeks to remove financial barriers for the first time by enabling companies and research groups to access European testing facilities outside their own country, which is generally not covered under national grant schemes.

The initiative, with at least four calls for applications, runs until 2015 with the first call for applications opening on 1 December 2011. Potential users, who must work in Europe or a country associated to the European FP7 programme, are invited to apply to access this first call.

The network consists of 42 testing facilities at 28 research centres in 12 countries. By linking these marine renewable energy testing facilities and using an agreed testing framework, this initiative now provides a clear path to commercialisation by allowing users to progress their device through each phase of testing.

All participating centres will use common standards, conduct research to improve their own testing capability and provide training to enhance expertise in the field.

HMRC, the National Ocean Test Facility, is offering its wave tank and electrical testing facilities in Cork, and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, through its Ocean Energy Development Unit, is offering the Irish wave energy test sites at Galway Bay and Belmullet, County Mayo.

Prof Tony Lewis, MaRINET Coordinator, said: ‘MaRINET offers a unique opportunity to access these world-class European test facilities in order to validate and progress concepts at any stage of development, and to ultimately harness the untapped renewable energy resources that are abundant around the European coastline.

‘This is a great opportunity to advance marine renewable research testing and commercial development for both Irish and European companies and research groups.’