Fossil fuels are present off coast of Kerry, says academic

A quantity of fossil fuels similar to that being explored in the Corrib Gas Field is available off the coast of the Kerry peninsula, according to a Trinity academic.

Professor Werner Blau has warned that any tapping of this reserve would require extensive planning to ensure minimal damage was caused to the surrounding environment.

Otherwise, environmental protests similar to those organised by the Shell to Sea campaign in Rossport could also take place in Dingle, according to Blau, who works at the Materials Ireland Polymer Research Centre, School of Physics at Trinity College Dublin.

Blau made the comments at the Alchemist Cafe, a monthly public forum on scientific issues held in Dublin.

Blau said the government needs to ensure that the power available in these resources needs to be used efficiently.

‘‘The ESB currently generates around five or six giga-watts (GW).

‘‘There’s probably another two to three GW for the next 15 years near Rossport and a similar amount near Kerry,” said the Trinity academic.

‘‘Even if we have wonderful resources like this we should look for ways to make more efficient use of it.”

Blau told attendees at the event that the government needs to invest more in researching renewable forms of energy.

‘‘There’s not a lot of research going on. There’s only €300,000 invested in wave research [per annum],” he said.

Blau, who is originally from Regensberg in Germany, said that this equated to three researchers focusing on the field.

He said Irish rivers had the potential to provide a significant level of Ireland’s energy needs.

‘‘There is a capacity on the edge of Irish rivers to produce 5GWfromsalt gradients,” said Blau. The technology used in such a process works in a similar fashion to membranes in the human body.

‘‘We have an awful lot of potential there,” said Blau. ‘‘If you use just one-fifth of the Shannon, you can generate a power supply to meet the needs of most of the south west [of Ireland].”

Blau said he hoped the arrival of the Green Party in government would lead to further research in renewable energy.

The organisers of the event said that the presence of the Greens in government showed a change in the public perception of environmental issues.

‘‘It’s not just about tree hugging, hippies and open-toed sandals – it’s about our financial future,” said Belinda Grehan, an organiser of the Alchemist Cafe.

‘‘We’re not keeping to Kyoto and we are going to get penalised. That’s the financial hit that will hit all of us as taxpayers,” she said.

‘‘If we embrace renewable energies, we can become more energy efficient and independent.”

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