I hear through the grapevine that a company in Maynooth called Wavebob are making giant strides on this alternative type of energy creation. Wave farms IMO is one of the greatest alternative energy products we have and hopefully companies like Wavebob will help Ireland to be 100% self sustaining on the creation of electricity and that we may even have a surplus to sell abroad.
I know the guys at Wavebob, they gave some presentations of their work last year. I hate to harp on about Zoe developments, but I thought Wavebob had a lot in common with the Zoe, Danninger business model. Wavebob were not contented only to design some cool piece of engineering. They thought about it, way down the track, in terms of how it would be economical to maintain and safe to fix problems etc. So not only were Wavebob able to come up with the best 'design' out there to capture wave energy from a specific site. Wavebob were aware of unknown unknowns, that they couldn't see from a point of view of designers.
From the design point of view, on it's own, WaveBob have managed to crack up the major difficulty with regard to wave energy generation. Every site is very specific in terms of wave - even moreso than wind. It takes a huge amount of data processing to understand how to capitalise best on a wind site. With wave, things get even more specific. I agree with Keating's point of course, that Ireland is unable to benefit from any more renewables on its grid at the moment. That point really needs to be expressed. But I don't see how that affects WaveBob as a company so much, as it is working to export a product to a global market. As I pointed out, one of the strengths of the WaveBob company, is their willingness to 'partner' up with their client and customise a solution that fits around their site and their needs.
I cannot tell you how many things I learned working closely with fabricators and construction as I had an opportunity to do at Zoe. You cannot afford to be your own little arrogant designer in that situation. You must ask people down to the line, to pull your design apart, to test it from their point of view, to make sure they are happy going forward. In the case of Wavebob that meant going outside of their own organisation and interfacing with the US Navy for instance, who require some kind of wave energy generation for their remote monitoring stations.
As far as I can remember, the main project manager with Wavebob worked in mining in South Africa for most of his career with huge drill machine. In that 'environment' he noted, how every single component is put under stress and potentially can break. I mean, when you think of the fact that Iarnrod Eireann were actually phoned by the Sea Scouts in Malahide, that serious erosion had taken place, and still trains were allowed to run over the bridge . . . . it goes to show you. We do still need companies such as Danninger, Wavebob and so on in Ireland. We are very good at thinking in our own position, but not as used to thinking about it from other peoples' positions also.
By having the emphasis which you see at the RIAI awards alot, on the most brilliant, intelligent and sublime 'design' talent, you end up paying a price for that. Frank McDonald and architecture awards seem to emphasise the individual and not the 'team'.
Brian O' Hanlon