Exploring solutions for Tidal Energy

Decarbonisation and just transition - NUI Galway Global Challenges project

The Tidal Energy project 'TIDAL-GES' at NUI Galway is focusing on solutions to secure transition to affordable and clean energy that also enhances the health and resilience of communities, wildlife and environment.

The acronym TIDAL-GES comes from the project title 'Tidal Energy – A transition to affordable and clean energy that can achieve ‘Good Environmental Status’ in coastal and marine waters'.

The project will engage with multiple stakeholders – including the people living in the coastal communities - to unlock the potential benefits for them in our drive to decarbonise the economy.

Part of the NUI Galway Global Challenges Programme, the project will bring together a multi-disciplinary team of researchers and a wide variety of stakeholders.

Tidal energy, in parallel with other renewable sources, is a key enabling technology to the decarbonisation of the global energy sector. It has the potential to contribute significantly to global electricity supply, with worldwide tidal resource estimated at over 1200 TWh per annum. It is very attractive as a renewable energy resource, as it is highly predictable and has little visual impact.

The industry has progressed steadily over the last 20 years with the first utility- scale devices deployed in recent years, but there a number of key challenges to overcome for the sector to progress to full maturity.

For example, tidal energy devices must efficiently generate power in hugely variable operating conditions, whilst being subjected to massive structural loads and extremely harsh marine climates.

Furthermore, they must be deployed at sites with a suitable resource in such a way that they respect the requirements of other marine users and do not adversely impact on the environment.

The core interdisciplinary NUI Galway team will collaborate to develop pathways for a just transition in decarbonising our economy, while enhancing the health and resilience of our ocean & coastal communities (people, wildlife and environment).

  • Prof Jamie Goggins (Professor of Civil Engineering, MaREI Centre, Ryan Institute & School of Engineering) will lead the project and led the technical work on developing the next generation of tidal energy technology with the support of senior members of the Sustainable & Resilient Structures Research Group.
  • Dr Stephen Nash (Senior Lecturer, School of Engineering) will lead the work on tidal energy site modelling and the assessment of the impact of climate change on site characteristics and extreme events for tidal energy devices.
  • Dr William Finnegan (Senior Research Fellow, School of Engineering) will lead the work on tidal turbine blade development.
  • Prof Stephen Hynes (Professor in Economics and Director of the Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit) and Dr Thomas Van Rensburg (Senior Lecturer, School of Business & Economics) will jointly lead the work on the economic appraisal of tidal energy and the investigation of societal attitudes towards it.
  • Dr Gesche Kindermann (Lecturer, School of Natural Science) will lead the work on stakeholder engagement and how tidal energy developers, local authorities and local communities of potential commercial tidal energy sites can work together to decarbonise the local economy, while also working together to deliver improved habitat and landscape conservation management.
  • Dr Anne Marie Power (Senior Lecturer in Zoology, School of Natural Sciences) will lead the work on developing systems to quantify the interactions of tidal energy devices with wildlife, supported by Dr Colin Lawton (Sr Lecturer, School of Natura Science).
The just transition is crucial in the work towards decarbonisation. So to is the importance placed on biodiversity and how we enhancing the health and resilience of our ocean & coastal communities. Our aim in the Tidal Energy project is to create a blueprint to simultaneously achieve these ambitions.”
NUI Galway Prof Jamie Goggins (Professor of Civil Engineering, MaREI Centre, Ryan Institute & School of Engineering), NUI Galway, will lead the project.

Prof Jamie Goggins (Professor of Civil Engineering, MaREI Centre, Ryan Institute & School of Engineering)

Prof Jamie Goggins (Professor of Civil Engineering, MaREI Centre, Ryan Institute & School of Engineering)

The NUI Galway Global Challenges fund was unveiled last year as part of the University’s new Research and Innovation Strategy 2021-26.

The Tidal Energy project is being supported under the theme of Decarbonisation.

There are five other areas of focus in the Global Challenges programme - Democracy, Food Security, Human-Centred Data, and Ocean and Coastal Health.