Wave and tidal power are relatively undeveloped forms of renewable energy. The ocean covers 70% of the world's surface and is considered an untapped source of renewable energy. The potential of the ocean to supply the world with green energy has generated huge interest for years, with world governments and companies investing millions into this field.

Below explains the two different forms of energy and their potential for use in Ireland.

Wave power can only be harnessed in certain conditions, with approximately 2% of the world's coastline suitable for harnessing of wave energy.

Europe is well positioned to take advantage of wave energy, with Ireland and the UK of great importance.


Still a developing technology but range of different devices follow same basic principle.

Device is moved by the motion of the waves underwater, the movement of which can generate electricity.


Coast off the west of Ireland identified as one of the major potential sites worldwide for wave energy.


Potential of up to 70 GW of ocean energy opportunity within 100km of the Irish coastline (offshore wind, wave and tidal).

As part of Ireland's Climate Action Plan, further research will  be done on making wave power commercially viable, with the aim of establishing Ireland as a leader in this developing technology.


Tidal Power is another example of using the world's oceans as a renewable energy source.

Thought to have not as much potential as wave power due to the specificity of suitable conditions.


Converts the energy of the tides to usable electricity.

More predictable than wind or sun and so it's potential to supplement intermittent renewable power is significant.

Limited by cost and scope of technologies, but this is constantly improving.


As part of Ireland's Climate Action Plan, government has pledged to continue research into tidal power as a possible renewable energy source.

Identification of suitable sites for the harnessing of tidal energy is difficult, many requirements and issues e.g.  suitable water depth and seabed conditions, interference with shipping lanes etc.


There have been several attempts to install commercial wave-farms worldwide, in order to prove the viability of them as a renewable energy source. These have been met with mixed success. Some of these farms had to be shut down or deployment abandoned due to financial or technical difficulties. Wave power has been successfully generated, but has never resulted in sustained generation because of the aforementioned reasons.

Tidal power is in a similar position globally to wave power with regards to commercial use. A tidal power station has been successfully operating in Brittany, France since 1966. Environmental and financial concerns have hindered progress since then.


The wide-scale commercial use of wave and tidal power is still several years off although progress is positive and advancing quickly.

Below are links to several websites with some more detail about the technologies and progress of research in Ireland and abroad.


Useful Links

IWEDA: Irish Wave Energy Developer's Association

The IWEDA is an organisation committed to the research and development of wave energy as a commercially viable sector in Ireland. They have great information on wave energy in Ireland, including a list of the various developers of new wave technologies.



Ocean Energy Ireland

Ocean Energy Ireland is a branch of SEAI that is heavily involved in ocean energy research. They have numerous test facilities which allow trialling of wave and tidal energy prototypes.



Ocean Energy 

Ocean Energy is a US company which is leading the development of wave technologies. The website provides more information on the actual mechanics of their wave energy system.

They plan on setting up one of their devices on the West coast of Ireland in a joint collaboration between the Irish government and the US's Department of Energy. 





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