The EU is to spend almost 10 million euro (£8.9 million) on researching renewable energy in Britain and Ireland.
The work will focus on the use of tidal power at Strangford Lough and the North Antrim Coast in Northern Ireland, ocean energy sites in Western Scotland and the potential for wave and tidal power generation in Donegal in the Republic of Ireland.
A virtual centre of competence at Queen’s University Belfast will host cross-border studies into bio and marine-based power, the European funding organisation said.
Gina McIntyre, chief executive officer of the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), said: “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 partners including the 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 9.3 million euro (£8.3 million) while match-funding for the project has been provided by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in Ireland and the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland.
It will also focus on 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.