Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Environment

Ireland: A Green Energy Entrepreneur’s Private Island Inspiration

For one proponent of clean energy, it was his politician father’s love of his beautiful Irish isle that inspired his ground breaking business ventures.

(Image of Inishvickillane Copyright Farhad Vladi)

The eldest son of one of Ireland’s best known political figures, engineer Conor Haughey, is attempting to bring an exciting new energy technology to the Emerald Isle – and it was inspired by his father’s famed private island, Inishvickillane. The Taoiseach, or Prime Minister, of Ireland in three separate terms spanning from 1979 to 1992, Charles Haughey first took office during the devastating energy crisis of the 1970’s, which may have inspired his later efforts to create sustainable wind turbines on his private isle.

A sprawling 170-acre island in the far south of the Blasket Islands, a small chain off the country’s west coast, Inishvickillane was arguably to the Irish media what Aristotle Onannis’ Greek isle of Skorpios was to the international press a decade earlier. As a hugely popular figure, Charles Haughey rarely spent a day without scrutiny, and his private island was the subject of much public fascination.

Purchased in the 1974 as a secluded retreat, the island quickly became both a treasured holiday spot and a laboratory for the politician’s interest in renewable energy. The electricity that powered the island’s home came from a cutting-edge wind turbine system, installed by the state power company at a reported cost of £160,000. The site of many fond memories, he ensured his beloved Inishvickillane would remain in his family, passing it on to his children through his will after his death in 2006.

It certainly seems that his son has taken up his passion for renewable energy. According to a recent article in Ireland’s Independent newspaper, Haughey’s Blue Power Energy company, which he founded with his partner Damien Browne in 2008, is seeking to harness the force of Ireland’s abundant coastal waves to create a renewable and eco-friendly source of electricity. Blue Power Energy is currently in the fundraising stage to drum up capital to bring their innovative technology into commercial production.

“We thought, how can we harness the power of the ocean on our doorstep?” the article quoted Conor Haughey as saying. “We have the best waves in the whole world. The west coast of Ireland is a huge untapped resource.” The company intends to use a new proprietary technology to capture energy from waves, which many parts of the world certainly have in abundance. For Ireland, this could mean a new era of energy independence. “The whole west coast of Ireland has incredible waves,” said a Blue Power engineer. “We could be the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy.”

Read more about this story: Independent.ie

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