Exploring solutions for Tidal Energy

Decarbonisation and Just Transition - University of Galway Global Challenges project


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.


Tidal GES Team Collaborate with GKinetic

The TIDAL-GES team has been collaborating over the past months with GKinetic for the pilot testing and showcase of its CEFA-12 (12kW) tidal turbine which was deployed in the Shannon River at the heart of Limerick City between the 19th and the 22nd of September 2023, as part of GKinetic’s involvement in the +CityxChange Project. The aim of the demonstration was to allow people to see the unit in real-life and share their thoughts and feedback. Footage of the unit in situ can be seen here: Video 1 and Video 2.

Earlier this year, GKinetic was granted planning permission to deploy three of its hydrokinetic turbines just upstream of Thomond Weir in the heart of Limerick City. It now awaits a foreshore license to keep moving forward.

Members of work packages 2 (WP2) and 3 (WP3) of the TIDAL-GES project are conducting ongoing work with GKinetic team. WP2 (wildlife monitoring) is fulfilling the monitoring experimental objectives by testing the theory and assessing the type of impacts those novel devices can have on the surrounding environment, especially when it comes to surrounding wildlife. In the case of this pilot testing in Limerick, the focus will mainly be on fish. On the other hand, WP3 team (Community Engagement and socio-economics) are aiming to gather feedback on people’s perceptions in Limerick around the development of renewable energy (more specifically, tidal energy) with a focus on its environmental and social impacts. The survey is available on this link.

In November and December 2023, WP3 PhD students also attended the Climate Exhibition hosted by the Hunt Museum in Limerick entitled “Nights Candles are Burnt Out” where a 3D-model of the device and a video around the pilot testing were made available for visitors. Students were able to collect some surveys around people’s perceptions and thoughts of the device.

Photo credit: GKinetic and Limerick City and County Council

Tidal GES and Gkinetic Team

Tidal GES and Gkinetic Team


Munaweera Thanthirige, T.R., Goggins, J., Flanagan, M. and Finnegan, W., 2023. A State-of-the-Art Review of Structural Testing of Tidal Turbine Blades. Energies, 16(10), p.4061.

The core interdisciplinary University of 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 Michael Flanagan will support Prof Goggins in project co-ordination.
  • 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. As part of his PhD research, Alireza Eftekhari will work with Dr Nash on this topic.
  • Dr William Finnegan (Senior Research Fellow, School of Engineering) will lead the work on tidal turbine blade development. As part of his PhD research, Tenis Ranjan will work with Dr Finnegan on this topic.
  • 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. As part of her PhD research, Marie Christin Lanser will work with Prof Hynes and Dr Van Rensburg on this topic.
  • 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. As part of his PhD research, Marc Ayoub will work with Dr Kindermann on this topic.
  • 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 (Senior Lecturer, School of Natura Science). As part of her PhD research, EVA Lambert will work with Dr Power and Dr Lawton on this topic.
"The just transition is crucial in the work towards decarbonisation. So too is the importance placed on biodiversity and how we enhance 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."

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 University of Galway Global Challenges fund is part of the University’s Research and Innovation Strategy 2021-26. Tidal GES is being supported through the theme of decarbonisation.

For information regarding the project please contact Dr Michael Flanagan michael.flanagan@universityofgalway.ie