Queen's University to be the hub for £9m tidal power project involving NI, Republic and Scotland
The EU is to spend almost €10 million (£8.9m) on researching renewable energy off both parts of Ireland and Scotland.
The work will focus on the use of tidal power at Strangford Lough and the north Antrim coast, ocean energy sites off western Scotland, and the potential for wave and tidal power generation in Donegal in the Republic.
A virtual centre of competence at Queen's University Belfast will host cross-border studies into bio and marine-based power, the Special EU Programmes body (SEUPB) said. Its chief executive officer Gina McIntyre stated: "The region has a low level of industry-relevant research and innovation within the renewable energy sector.
"The Bryden Centre project will help address this issue by creating a new centre of competence made up of dedicated PhD students creating high quality research with strong commercial potential."
Working with a number of cross-border bodies, including Scotland's University of Highlands and Islands, Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Ulster University, the Agri-Food & Biosciences Institute, Donegal County Council and Dumfries and Galloway Council, the project will create the largest amount of cross-border research in this area to date.
It will recruit 34 doctoral students and six post-doctoral research associates to produce relevant research with the potential to produce strong commercial benefit.
The EU is contributing more than €9.3m (£8.3m) while match-funding for the project has been provided by the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland and the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in the Republic.
As well as tidal power, it will also focus on renewables such as bio-energy, specifically heat, biogas and electricity which can be produced through the anaerobic digestion of agri-food waste.
Findings produced are intended to benefit many small and medium-sized businesses struggling to become more innovative within the renewable energy sector.
A massive tidal energy project on the seabed off Northern Ireland's north coast is planned for next year.
Cork-based DP Energy hopes to install a series of 100 megawatt (MW) turbines off Fair Head.
It would generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 70,000 homes.
The proposed technology is a further development of that used in Strangford Lough in Co Down.