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Displaying items by tag: Offshore Wind Energy

An environmental group has expressed fears that the Government is prioritising industry-funded offshore wind and wave energy projects over its international commitments on marine protected areas.

As The Times reports, the Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) has questioned why legislation is already advanced on designating marine areas for renewable energy, but has omitted provision for marine protected areas (MPAs) as originally promised.

Under the Government’s Climate Action Plan, 70% of Ireland’s electricity will be generated from renewable energy by 2030 and it says least 3,500 MW (megawatts) of this will come from offshore wind.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney welcomed Shell’s return to the Irish energy market through offshore energy.

The multinational, which developed the controversial Corrib gas project in Mayo, has acquired a 51% share in Irish company Simply Blue Energy’s floating wind farm in the Celtic Sea.

Offshore renewable projects will be regulated by a Marine Planning and Development Management Bill, currently before the Oireachtas.

The IWT says this Bill was meant to provide also for MPAs to protect sensitive habitats beyond the 12 nautical mile limit, but says this was omitted and separate legislation will now be required.

An advisory group report published this week by Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien confirms there is no definition of an MPA in Irish law and this is a “gap which needs to be addressed”.

The current Programme for Government (2020) includes a commitment to expand Ireland’s network of MPAs to 10% of its maritime area as soon as is practical - and to meet a higher target of MPAs constituting 30% of its maritime area by 2030.

“Our fear is that wind farms will be approved offshore, and MPAs then “fitted in-between”, IWT project officer Regina Classen says.

The provisions of the Wildlife Acts, as amended, are limited in terms of their geographic scope, applying only to the foreshore, the advisory report says.

It says that while it is “at one” with the aim of protecting biodiversity in crisis, creating a sustainable future, and meeting climate change challenges, implementation will be “contentious”, there could be trouble ahead if it is not correctly handled.

The approach has to be “in a manner respectful of the needs of people and communities, as well as to the environment of which they are a part”, it warns.

The report doesn’t recommend locations of proposed MPAs, but summarises relevant thinking about designating these sea areas in an Irish context - and recommends how the existing small network in Irish waters could be expanded..

The group was chaired by Prof Tasman Crowe of the UCD Earth Institute and involved 20 experts in life and ocean sciences, marine socio-economics, maritime culture, governance and legislation.

A spokesman for the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage said that in line with Programme for Government commitments, it “ intends to begin developing legislation on the identification, designation and management of MPAs this year”.

This would be “ informed by the extensive public consultation to come and the resulting information”, the spokesman said, adding that five months would allow for extensive consultation.

Read more in The Times here

Published in Power From the Sea
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The photomontage published in Afloat a week ago of 60 'supersize' wind turbines planned for Dublin Bay should raise substantial debate about the impact of offshore wind farms on Irish waters and the activities in them – sailing, leisure marine, fishing and commercial.

There are so many proposals now being forward, with billions of Euros involved, in response to the Government's stated intention to drive forward wind energy, that it becomes challenging to keep track of them all. "Public consultation" is promised, but what does that exactly mean and how effective is this process?

The proposal for the Kish and Bray Banks is about six nautical miles offshore, so for many leisure mariners that might not seem to be considered as a major issue, or problem. However, the 60 turbines would be 310 metres in height - over a thousand feet - pretty substantial on the seascape.

Dublin Array: Likely view from Dún Laoghaire towards Sandycove and out towards the Kish Bank.Dublin Array: Likely view from Dún Laoghaire towards Sandycove and out towards the Kish Bank.

The Arklow Bank Wind Park, as it's called, is also six miles offshore. Phase 2, for 76 turbines, is under public consultation and there is a lease area 27 km long and 2.5 km wide.

The developers of these and other projects have initiated public consultation. Projects are promoted as essential for energy and environmental purposes, but there is less, if any, reference in publicity to the profits.

So what does "consultation" mean?

Too often, as a journalist, it seems to me that "consultation" is seen by developers as a necessary process to be gone through, indicating that the public has been consulted. But with what effect? Is debate sufficiently focused on the effects on leisure, sailing, fishing, commercial, marine life, species? Is there not a need, in response to the proliferation of proposals, for more widespread debate and more intensive focus, practical discussion and a wider, co-operative approach and not only through the State process administered and controlled by officialdom >

In this regard, I have been talking to the man who has bought Crosshaven Boatyard in Cork Harbour to set up a business "to service the future needs of offshore wind farms." Pearse Flynn of Green Rebel Marine has set up a "strategic partnership" with Fisheries Liaisons Ltd., to develop communication "with the wider marine and fishing community as development of offshore wind farms picks up pace." It seems an interesting approach to "consultation."

Listen to him on the Podcast below.

Published in Power From the Sea

Cork harbour could become central to Ireland’s development as an international centre for hydrogen energy technology, a new offshore wind blueprint by the Eirwind consortium forecasts.

As The Irish Examiner reports today, Ireland could be exporting bulk hydrogen as part of an offshore renewable expansion.

The Eirwind strategy to 2050 identifies a number of challenges, and calls for Government commitment to specific incentives, marine planning legislation and “transparent” decision-making.

Eirwind is an industry-led, collaborative research project involving University College Cork (UCC) which has been working on a 30-year strategy for harnessing offshore wind energy.

It describes floating offshore wind technology as a “game changer,” and the period 2020 to 2030 as a “defining decade” for investing in green hydrogen and grid reinforcement.

The new Programme for Government has raised a target of 3.5 gigawatt (GW) energy production from offshore wind to five GW by 2030, and specifies the Irish Sea and Celtic Sea for development. It also signals that 30 GW could be derived from the Atlantic coast.

The Eirwind blueprint identifies three “production zones” - the Irish Sea, Celtic Sea and Atlantic Coast- and is expected to recommend master plans for ports from Rosslare, Co Wexford round to Killybegs, Co Donegal,to support offshore wind and wave development.

The report identifies the fishing industry as “the primary stakeholder”,and is expected to recommend that a joint forum between the fishing and offshore wind sectors be established .

It says the recently completed Marine Planning and Development Management Bill, along with the related Maritime Jurisdiction Bill, need to be prioritised.

Eirwind, based at the MaREI centre in UCC is supported by Science Foundation Ireland, and companies include Brookfield, DP Energy, ESB, Equinor, Engie, EDPR, Enerco, Simply Blue, SSE and Statkraft.

More from the Examiner here

Published in Power From the Sea

Coastal communities have been given just three weeks to respond to a consultation on developing a network of offshore wind farms to meet Ireland’s climate targets.

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton has given a closing date of July 1st for views on how to scale up renewable energy output through offshore wind.

Under the Government’s Climate Action Plan, 70% of Ireland’s electricity will be generated from renewable energy by 2030.

At least 3,500 MW (megawatts)of this will come from offshore wind, Mr Bruton has said, which is “enough to power over three million homes”.

“It is crucial that we put in place a model that allows us to scale up and realise the changes required,” Mr Bruton said.

A consultancy report, published by Mr Bruton, outlines four options - ranging from a “developer-led” scenario, where each project would design its own connection to a more centralised “plan-led” offshore transmission development with more State involvement.

There has been some surprise within the renewables sector at the report’s release and short timeline for consultation while Government formation talks are still in train – talks which could affect the climate targets.

The selected model will be aligned with Ireland’s new National Marine Planning Framework, and the development consent regime for the maritime area as set out in the Maritime Planning and Development Management legislation, he said.

The report by Navigant consultants, based in the Netherlands, examines how other European countries approach offshore grid planning and outlines four variants of “developer-led” and “plan-led” approaches that might suit Ireland.

Under the “developer-led” model, applied in Britain, developers would prepare requirements for consents, select and pre-develop wind farm sites, plan and build farms and transmission assets.

Under the “plan-led” model, a State body would select wind farm sites and undertake pre-development and offshore grid connections – a model applied in the Netherlands, and one which would give more responsibility to Eirgrid and ESB Networks.

Under three of the four options outlined, the offshore wind transmission assets are owned and operated by the developer, who manages and bears the risk of outages to its transmission assets.

The Marine Renewables Industry Association (MRIA) chairman Peter Coyle said he welcomed the report’s publication as another example of Government commitment to renewable energy.

“This is going to set the rules for the game for the next 50 to 100 years, so the MRIA will be making a strong input to this consultation,” he said.

He noted that the Government had recently designated seven offshore renewable energy projects in the Irish Sea and outer Galway Bay “transition” projects.

Irish Wind Energy Association chief executive Dr David Connolly said that “identifying how offshore wind farms will connect to the grid is critical to ensuring we can build the 3,500 MW of projects needed to deliver the Climate Action Plan and to cut Ireland’s CO2 emissions”.

“It is essential that an effective model for the grid is partnered with a robust planning system,” he said.

“Passing the Marine Planning and Development Management Bill, which will put in place a planning system for offshore wind energy, and giving An Bord Pleanála the resources to administer it, must be top priorities for the next Government if we are to build these projects in time,” Dr Connolly added.

Published in Power From the Sea
Tagged under

SEFtec NMCI Offshore Ltd (SNO), a public / private joint venture between SEFtec Global Training Ltd and The National Maritime College of Ireland (NMCI), will be launched tomorrow at the National Maritime College, Co. Cork, by the Minister of Enterprise, Trade & Employment, Batt O'Keeffe.

This venture is a shining example of how to bring together state of the art public infrastructure, in the form of one of the world's most advanced maritime colleges, with private enterprise's expertise in not only offshore training, but in the design, manufacture, installation, commissioning and service of training simulators for the global maritime industry.

The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, Batt O'Keeffe TD, who launched the public-private joint venture, said it would support jobs and the growth of the Irish offshore exploration and wind energy sectors.  'The future is bright for the partnership we are announcing here this afternoon. The maritime sector is a diverse and developing global industry that requires huge levels of skill and technical capability,' said Minister O'Keeffe.

Focused on supporting the successful and sustainable growth of the Irish offshore exploration sector, SNO has successfully secured the approval of the Offshore Petroleum Industry Training Organization (OPITO) for its programme of courses. In a sector that is completely focused on safety,OPITO has become the global industries focal point for skills, training and workforce development.

"SNO is very proud to have achieved its OPITO approval this year, the approval came about in a phenomenal time frame and this wouldn't have been possible without the combined efforts of both public and private joint venture partners. This will mean that we can service not only the growing needs of Ireland's offshore sector, but train for the global industry as well"  Conor Mowlds, Managing Director SNO Ltd.

SEFtec, an Irish SME with a global focus, commenced trading in 2004 and has quickly become one of the world's leaders in the provision of offshore simulation equipment. Based in a state-of-the-art facility in Cork it has diversified its activities from the design and fabrication of offshore training simulation equipment to training and already operates an OPITO centre in Kazakhstan.

The NMCI, a public private partnership between the Cork Institute of Technology, Vita Lend Lease and the Irish Naval Service was opened in 2004, represents a €60 million investment by the state in maritime training, and is one of the world's most advanced maritime colleges.

The future aim of SNO is to break into the offshore renewable energy sector, with the development of their Offshore Wind Energy Safety Training course (OWEST) ear marked for further development.  The OWEST course currently involves Helicopter Winching Techniques, Life Saving Appliances and Vessel Abandonment which is key training for anyone working on or near Offshore Wind Energy Sites.

See below for photos taken this morning at the National Maritime College in Ringaskiddy of delegates on the OPITO approved BOSIET - Offshore Training Course, using the Helicopter Underwater Training Simulator

Published in Rescue

Marine Science Perhaps it is the work of the Irish research vessel RV Celtic Explorer out in the Atlantic Ocean that best highlights the essential nature of marine research, development and sustainable management, through which Ireland is developing a strong and well-deserved reputation as an emerging centre of excellence. From Wavebob Ocean energy technology to aquaculture to weather buoys and oil exploration these pages document the work of Irish marine science and how Irish scientists have secured prominent roles in many European and international marine science bodies.

 

At A Glance – Ocean Facts

  • 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by the ocean
  • The ocean is responsible for the water cycle, which affects our weather
  • The ocean absorbs 30% of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity
  • The real map of Ireland has a seabed territory ten times the size of its land area
  • The ocean is the support system of our planet.
  • Over half of the oxygen we breathe was produced in the ocean
  • The global market for seaweed is valued at approximately €5.4 billion
  • · Coral reefs are among the oldest ecosystems in the world — at 230 million years
  • 1.9 million people live within 5km of the coast in Ireland
  • Ocean waters hold nearly 20 million tons of gold. If we could mine all of the gold from the ocean, we would have enough to give every person on earth 9lbs of the precious metal!
  • Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector in the world – Ireland is ranked 7th largest aquaculture producer in the EU
  • The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest ocean in the world, covering 20% of the earth’s surface. Out of all the oceans, the Atlantic Ocean is the saltiest
  • The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world. It’s bigger than all the continents put together
  • Ireland is surrounded by some of the most productive fishing grounds in Europe, with Irish commercial fish landings worth around €200 million annually
  • 97% of the earth’s water is in the ocean
  • The ocean provides the greatest amount of the world’s protein consumed by humans
  • Plastic affects 700 species in the oceans from plankton to whales.
  • Only 10% of the oceans have been explored.
  • 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year, equal to dumping a garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.
  • 12 humans have walked on the moon but only 3 humans have been to the deepest part of the ocean.

(Ref: Marine Institute)

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