Time to Catch the Tide: H&W could lead Northern Ireland in a potential energy revolution
With the unique asset of Harland and Wolff combined with some of the fiercest tides in the world, Northern Ireland stands on the edge of a potential energy revolution which can help secure its energy supplies, create and retain highly-skilled local manufacturing jobs, propel the region as a centre of excellence in the marine energy sector and assist its population with reduced electricity bills in the future.
In recent years Harland and Wolff has successfully developed a unique expertise in renewable energy design and construction alongside its well-established maritime work.
This has included wind and tidal technology manufacturing and assembly; the company’s facilities and deep water port access is unrivalled.
Very recently Harland and Wolff entered into a relationship with leading British tidal stream developer Lunar Energy, which could lead to a major project for the yard and a significant boost for Ulster’s renewable evolution.
Hull-based Lunar Energy is already planning to install a huge 300 turbine tidal stream field costing 500 million pounds which will provide enough energy to power a large number of homes by 2015. But sadly for the UK, this plant is being built by Lunar in South Korea, in conjunction with Korean Midland Power.
Where the Korean authorities have realised the huge potential of tidal power in their own waters, the UK still appears hesitant to take the lead.
It is a sad truth that development overseas is currently a simpler process than within the UK. Although the UK is blessed with one of the highest levels of tidal stream in the world, there has not been, and does not seem to be, the Government will to remove the considerable planning and crucial grid connection obstacles that are holding back such home grown technologies.
Political and policy leadership will determine whether Northern Ireland can become one of the world’s leading tidal energy centres within the next few years.
The opportunity is there and the cry to Stormont’s political leaders must surely be: it’s time to catch the tide.
Content courtesy of Belfast Telegraph, image courtesy of Harland and Wolff