The Irish Marine Institute is to join forces with the Belfast shipbuilding company Harland and Wolff in an initiative to produce power from the waves, a project that the participants say could bring benefits to both northern and southern Ireland.

The aim of the north-south project is to construct a prototype wave energy converter so that a pilot scheme can by put in place by the end of 2000. The initiative will utilize an American technology for harnessing the energy content of waves. The technology is intended for deep water applications.

According to the Irish marine minister, waves hold the potential to produce up to 40% of the Irish Electricity Supply Board’s existing output. A study has located 73 sites off the country’s west coast where the technology could be applied.