Cutting edge facility opens in Ireland's maritime quarter

Created on Tuesday, 14 July 2015 15:52
Written by Gillian Mills

Ireland’s head of government, Enda Kenny, has officially opened the UCC Beaufort Building, in Ringaskiddy, Co Cork. The 4,700m2 five-storey building comprises the latest in wave simulators, test tanks, workshops and offices within a purpose-built infrastructure for renewable energy and maritime research to power Ireland’s ‘blue economy’.

Beaufort opening

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny inspects the Irish Naval guard of honour at the official opening of the UCC Beaufort Building in Ringaskiddy, Co. Cork 

Speaking at the opening, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that marine R&D was a part of government’s plan to rebuild a “sustainable enterprise-based economy” as the oceans increasingly support more jobs, enterprise and research.

Its “world-class” facilities are set to attract top researchers and new entrepreneurial endeavours from maritime and energy sectors “in a spirit of collaboration between academia, private enterprise and the Irish Naval Service, and are a model for public-private partnerships,” he added.

Dr Michael Murphy, UCC President, said the building provided the necessary infrastructure to exploit science to deliver new technologies for society: “With its wonderful design and state-of-the-art equipment, the building will host academic and industry researchers, working in partnership to grow our marine economy.”

Extreme conditions simulator

Named after the Irish hydrographer and globally-adopted Beaufort Wind Scale creator, Rear Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort, the 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.

The tanks are capable of producing actual waves up to 1.2 metres high - 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.

“Today we celebrate Francis Beaufort, the hydrographer from Meath. And we celebrate the genius of those who envisioned this marine centre of excellence in the ‘Maritime Quarter of Ireland’ being realised through these wonderful new facilities – the best in the world,” Dr Murphy added.

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 relating to marine renewable energy. The centre has already secured €30m in funding through Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and contracts with industry partners comprising of multinationals and SMEs.

The MaREI centre forms 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.

IMERC has already attracted international companies in the area of ocean energy and maritime research, and recently announced over 90 new jobs as a direct result of foreign direct investment.