Ireland Gets Marine Renewables Research Centre

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny T.D. has officially opened the UCC Beaufort Building in Ringaskiddy, which will provide Ireland with infrastructure for renewable energy and maritime research to power the ‘blue economy’.

The 4,700m squared five storey building features wave simulators, test tanks, workshops and offices.

Named after the Irish hydrographer and globally adopted Beaufort Wind Scale creator, Rear Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort, the Beaufort building will house the headquarters of the multi-institutional home to the SFI MaREI Centre (Marine Renewable Energy Ireland) and the LIR National Ocean Test Facility.

Led by Professsor Conchúr Ó Brádaigh, Director of MaREI, the centre will cater for 135 researchers, industry partners and support staff, dedicated to solving the challenges related to marine renewable energy, the multi-disciplinary centre has already secured €30 million in funding through Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and contracts with industry partners comprising of multinationals and SMEs.

The MaREI centre will form a critical piece in the Ireland Maritime Energy Research Cluster (IMERC) environment, which includes the National Maritime College of Ireland (NMCI), Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) and the Irish Defence Forces.

The wave tanks in the Beaufort Building are capable of producing actual waves of up to 1.2 metres high, which are equivalent to the 30m+ waves experienced in extreme conditions off the west coast of Ireland and in the Atlantic, and will be used extensively by LIR, the National Ocean Test Facility located in the Beaufort Building.

Construction began at Beaufort in 2013, when An Taoiseach officially turned the sod on the building exactly two years to the day of the official opening on 11 July 2015. The ambitious development was led by UCC Capital Projects Officer Niall McAuliffe and employed more than 200 people on site. Designed to resemble a naturally eroded cliff face with incredible sea views, the architects on the project were McCullough Mulvin and the civil and structural engineers were ARUP. The main contractors appointed were JJ Rhatigan who won the contract by competitive tender process. Planning permission for the development was granted in December 2012.

The Beaufort Building, located adjacent to the National Maritime College of Ireland, is a major extension of the University’s Environmental Research Institute (ERI) and will be UCC’s flagship presence on the IMERC Campus. The facilities comprise a 2,600m squared tank-hall which will house four different wave tanks and a suite of electrical test infrastructure, alongside scientists and engineers engaged in cross-disciplinary research covering a range of fields such as Marine Renewable Energy, Marine and Coastal, and Sustainable Energy Research.

The Beaufort Building construction is funded by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) and Bord Gáis Energy (BGE) through the PRTLI 5 Programme, the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine on a site provided by the Industrial Development Agency (IDA) facilitated by the Port of Cork. Recurrent funding has been provided by the HEA and BGE also under PRTLI 5 and the Glucksman Foundation in UCC. Subsequently the test facilities of the Building were significantly augmented by capital awards from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).

Image: University College Cork