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Power From The Sea - Offshore Renewable Energy
Shell had agreed deals with Cork-based company Simply Blue to acquire a 51 per cent share in the Western Star Floating wind project off the coast of Clare and to jointly develop the 1.3GW Emerald floating wind project off the south coast
Wind Energy Ireland has expressed concern at Shell’s withdrawal from the Irish offshore renewables market. A Sunday Business Post exclusive today quotes a senior industry source stating that Shell is leaving to focus its efforts on “countries with more accommodating…
During the drift towards the Dutch coast, the bulk carrier first hit another ship and then two structures of a wind farm under construction. See vid below
The Dutch Safety Board says it has initiated an investigation into the “increasing congestion” caused by wind farms and shipping in the North Sea. The safety board, which investigates shipping, aviation, railway and industrial accidents in the Dutch State, said…
The tug/workboat Husky pictured at Arklow Bank Wind Park
Operators of the North Irish Sea Array (NISA) offshore wind farm will shortly undertake a subtidal benthic ecology survey campaign on its proposed export cable route area, off the coast of north Co Dublin and Co Meath. Similar to the…
The 250-metre long and 44-metre wide Liberian flagged Crude Oil Tanker Ligurian Sea built departs Whitegate Oil Refinery with the help of a Port of Cork tug bound for Houston, Texas
International energy company Irving Oil and Simply Blue Group, an Irish blue economy developer in floating offshore wind and renewable fuels, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with a commitment to explore opportunities related to the potential development of…
National Ports Study - It claims to be the most detailed analysis ever conducted on the readiness of Irish ports for the development of offshore renewable energy
Belfast is the only port on the island of Ireland which is ready to construct offshore wind farms, according to a new study published by Wind Energy Ireland. The national ports study published at the body’s annual offshore wind energy…
The Merel G Offshore Supply Ship in Cork Harbour
The Merel G Offshore Supply Ship is currently operating out of Cork Harbour and is understood to be involved in lifting the last of the county's gas platforms.  The vessel is customised for offshore oil and gas stand-by capabilities. Built…
Denis Crotty has been appointed Senior Projects Advisor with Green Rebel
Denis Crotty has been appointed Senior Projects Advisor with Green Rebel. He will be based between Green Rebel’s headquarters in Cork city and Crosshaven Boatyard. Green Rebel is an Irish company specialising in offshore site investigations for offshore wind developments. …
The signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding was attended by the Dutch Minister for Climate and Energy Policy, Mr. Rob Jetten, and the Irish Minister of State for Public Procurement, eGovernment and Circular Economy, Mr. Ossian Smyth, as official witnesses to the agreement. Also represented were Lord Mayor Cork City, Cllr Deirdre Forde and Deputy Lord Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Anthony Barry. Signing of the MOU today at City Hall in Cork today was (front row right to left) Gert-Jan Nieuwenhuizen, Port of Amsterdam, Pearse Flynn, EIH2 and Conor Mowlds, Port of Cork
A memorandum of understanding has been signed today between Ireland’s first green hydrogen company, EIH2, the Port of Cork and the Port of Amsterdam. This partnership will enable Ireland to maximise its use of offshore wind as a source of…
Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan -
Energy ministers linked to the North Seas Energy Cooperation (NSEC) and the European Commission have pledged a “significant increase in their collective ambition” in the deployment of offshore renewable energy. Nine NSEC countries, including Ireland, which met in Dublin today…
A diagram illustrating the current and future types of marine wind turbines, the one in the shallowest sea has a solid 'pole' the second sits on a 'pylon-like' structure and the next two are anchored by chains to the sea bed
Oceanographers at Bangor University in Wales are calling for research into the environmental impact of turbulence caused by tidal flow past floating deep-water wind farms. New research is needed to fully understand how locating varying types of wind turbines could…
The survey vessel Ros Áine
Operators of the North Irish Sea Array (NISA) offshore wind farm are undertaking a geophysical survey campaign on its proposed export cable route area, off the coast of north Co Dublin and Co Meath. This campaign is expected to run…
ILV Granuaile
DP Energy Ireland Ltd is undertaking geophysical surveys at the proposed Inis Ealga Marine Energy Park off Cork and Waterford, outside the 12-nautical-mile limit. Works were set to begin on Friday 2 September and last for five days, subject to…
Roman Rebel
A geophysical survey is set for the Irish Sea off the Wicklow coast to provide site investigation information to facilitate the development of the Arklow Bank Wind Park. The survey work was anticipated to get under way by Wednesday 31…
The 8.7 million euro (£7.5 million sterling) ECOWind projects are being funded by Britain’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and The Crown Estate, with support from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Three new research projects into the impact of offshore wind in British waters aim to provide “policy-ready” research outcomes to ensure expansion in line with biodiversity priorities. The 8.7 million euro (£7.5 million sterling) ECOWind projects are being funded by…
Research vessel DP1 Ondine Jule
Haven Offshore Array will be completing geophysical survey works off the Donegal coast as part of a scientific data gathering exercise for the renewable energy project from this week to around 24 December, weather permitting. However, please note that the…
Early and better stakeholder consultation on offshore wind installation is vital, and more quantitative studies are needed to assess the monetary loss to fishing, a European Commission official has told an international workshop. The workshop also heard how underwater noise…

Ireland's Offshore Renewable Energy

Because of Ireland's location at the Atlantic edge of the EU, it has more offshore energy potential than most other countries in Europe. The conditions are suitable for the development of the full range of current offshore renewable energy technologies.

Offshore Renewable Energy FAQs

Offshore renewable energy draws on the natural energy provided by wind, wave and tide to convert it into electricity for industry and domestic consumption.

Offshore wind is the most advanced technology, using fixed wind turbines in coastal areas, while floating wind is a developing technology more suited to deeper water. In 2018, offshore wind provided a tiny fraction of global electricity supply, but it is set to expand strongly in the coming decades into a USD 1 trillion business, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). It says that turbines are growing in size and in power capacity, which in turn is "delivering major performance and cost improvements for offshore wind farms".

The global offshore wind market grew nearly 30% per year between 2010 and 2018, according to the IEA, due to rapid technology improvements, It calculated that about 150 new offshore wind projects are in active development around the world. Europe in particular has fostered the technology's development, led by Britain, Germany and Denmark, but China added more capacity than any other country in 2018.

A report for the Irish Wind Energy Assocation (IWEA) by the Carbon Trust – a British government-backed limited company established to accelerate Britain's move to a low carbon economy - says there are currently 14 fixed-bottom wind energy projects, four floating wind projects and one project that has yet to choose a technology at some stage of development in Irish waters. Some of these projects are aiming to build before 2030 to contribute to the 5GW target set by the Irish government, and others are expected to build after 2030. These projects have to secure planning permission, obtain a grid connection and also be successful in a competitive auction in the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS).

The electricity generated by each turbine is collected by an offshore electricity substation located within the wind farm. Seabed cables connect the offshore substation to an onshore substation on the coast. These cables transport the electricity to land from where it will be used to power homes, farms and businesses around Ireland. The offshore developer works with EirGrid, which operates the national grid, to identify how best to do this and where exactly on the grid the project should connect.

The new Marine Planning and Development Management Bill will create a new streamlined system for planning permission for activity or infrastructure in Irish waters or on the seabed, including offshore wind farms. It is due to be published before the end of 2020 and enacted in 2021.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE. Is there scope for community involvement in offshore wind? The IWEA says that from the early stages of a project, the wind farm developer "should be engaging with the local community to inform them about the project, answer their questions and listen to their concerns". It says this provides the community with "the opportunity to work with the developer to help shape the final layout and design of the project". Listening to fishing industry concerns, and how fishermen may be affected by survey works, construction and eventual operation of a project is "of particular concern to developers", the IWEA says. It says there will also be a community benefit fund put in place for each project. It says the final details of this will be addressed in the design of the RESS (see below) for offshore wind but it has the potential to be "tens of millions of euro over the 15 years of the RESS contract". The Government is also considering the possibility that communities will be enabled to invest in offshore wind farms though there is "no clarity yet on how this would work", the IWEA says.

Based on current plans, it would amount to around 12 GW of offshore wind energy. However, the IWEA points out that is unlikely that all of the projects planned will be completed. The industry says there is even more significant potential for floating offshore wind off Ireland's west coast and the Programme for Government contains a commitment to develop a long-term plan for at least 30 GW of floating offshore wind in our deeper waters.

There are many different models of turbines. The larger a turbine, the more efficient it is in producing electricity at a good price. In choosing a turbine model the developer will be conscious of this ,but also has to be aware the impact of the turbine on the environment, marine life, biodiversity and visual impact. As a broad rule an offshore wind turbine will have a tip-height of between 165m and 215m tall. However, turbine technology is evolving at a rapid rate with larger more efficient turbines anticipated on the market in the coming years.

 

The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme is designed to support the development of renewable energy projects in Ireland. Under the scheme wind farms and solar farms compete against each other in an auction with the projects which offer power at the lowest price awarded contracts. These contracts provide them with a guaranteed price for their power for 15 years. If they obtain a better price for their electricity on the wholesale market they must return the difference to the consumer.

Yes. The first auction for offshore renewable energy projects is expected to take place in late 2021.

Cost is one difference, and technology is another. Floating wind farm technology is relatively new, but allows use of deeper water. Ireland's 50-metre contour line is the limit for traditional bottom-fixed wind farms, and it is also very close to population centres, which makes visibility of large turbines an issue - hence the attraction of floating structures Do offshore wind farms pose a navigational hazard to shipping? Inshore fishermen do have valid concerns. One of the first steps in identifying a site as a potential location for an offshore wind farm is to identify and assess the level of existing marine activity in the area and this particularly includes shipping. The National Marine Planning Framework aims to create, for the first time, a plan to balance the various kinds of offshore activity with the protection of the Irish marine environment. This is expected to be published before the end of 2020, and will set out clearly where is suitable for offshore renewable energy development and where it is not - due, for example, to shipping movements and safe navigation.

YEnvironmental organisations are concerned about the impact of turbines on bird populations, particularly migrating birds. A Danish scientific study published in 2019 found evidence that larger birds were tending to avoid turbine blades, but said it didn't have sufficient evidence for smaller birds – and cautioned that the cumulative effect of farms could still have an impact on bird movements. A full environmental impact assessment has to be carried out before a developer can apply for planning permission to develop an offshore wind farm. This would include desk-based studies as well as extensive surveys of the population and movements of birds and marine mammals, as well as fish and seabed habitats. If a potential environmental impact is identified the developer must, as part of the planning application, show how the project will be designed in such a way as to avoid the impact or to mitigate against it.

A typical 500 MW offshore wind farm would require an operations and maintenance base which would be on the nearby coast. Such a project would generally create between 80-100 fulltime jobs, according to the IWEA. There would also be a substantial increase to in-direct employment and associated socio-economic benefit to the surrounding area where the operation and maintenance hub is located.

The recent Carbon Trust report for the IWEA, entitled Harnessing our potential, identified significant skills shortages for offshore wind in Ireland across the areas of engineering financial services and logistics. The IWEA says that as Ireland is a relatively new entrant to the offshore wind market, there are "opportunities to develop and implement strategies to address the skills shortages for delivering offshore wind and for Ireland to be a net exporter of human capital and skills to the highly competitive global offshore wind supply chain". Offshore wind requires a diverse workforce with jobs in both transferable (for example from the oil and gas sector) and specialist disciplines across apprenticeships and higher education. IWEA have a training network called the Green Tech Skillnet that facilitates training and networking opportunities in the renewable energy sector.

It is expected that developing the 3.5 GW of offshore wind energy identified in the Government's Climate Action Plan would create around 2,500 jobs in construction and development and around 700 permanent operations and maintenance jobs. The Programme for Government published in 2020 has an enhanced target of 5 GW of offshore wind which would create even more employment. The industry says that in the initial stages, the development of offshore wind energy would create employment in conducting environmental surveys, community engagement and development applications for planning. As a site moves to construction, people with backgrounds in various types of engineering, marine construction and marine transport would be recruited. Once the site is up and running , a project requires a team of turbine technicians, engineers and administrators to ensure the wind farm is fully and properly maintained, as well as crew for the crew transfer vessels transporting workers from shore to the turbines.

The IEA says that today's offshore wind market "doesn't even come close to tapping the full potential – with high-quality resources available in most major markets". It estimates that offshore wind has the potential to generate more than 420 000 Terawatt hours per year (TWh/yr) worldwide – as in more than 18 times the current global electricity demand. One Terawatt is 114 megawatts, and to put it in context, Scotland it has a population a little over 5 million and requires 25 TWh/yr of electrical energy.

Not as advanced as wind, with anchoring a big challenge – given that the most effective wave energy has to be in the most energetic locations, such as the Irish west coast. Britain, Ireland and Portugal are regarded as most advanced in developing wave energy technology. The prize is significant, the industry says, as there are forecasts that varying between 4000TWh/yr to 29500TWh/yr. Europe consumes around 3000TWh/year.

The industry has two main umbrella organisations – the Irish Wind Energy Association, which represents both onshore and offshore wind, and the Marine Renewables Industry Association, which focuses on all types of renewable in the marine environment.

©Afloat 2020

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