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Power From The Sea
Two Irish environmental coalitions are calling on the Government to ensure the necessary Dáil Committee time is given to debating the new Maritime Area Planning Bill. The Sustainable Water Network (SWAN) and the Environmental Pillar say that Ireland is “marching…
Taoiseach Micheal Martin joins John Wallace, Green Rebel CEO and Chris Franks, Senior Master of the Roman Rebel on board the Roman Rebel for the announcement that Green Rebel is to create 50 jobs over the next year
Green Rebel has announced plans to create 50 jobs over the next 12 months.  Green Rebel is an Irish owned business established to service the current and future needs of offshore wind farms. The new positions will include survey vessel…
Ros a Mhíl - A Strategic Hub for the Development and Support of the Offshore Wind Industry on the West Coast of Ireland says a new report
The south Connemara harbour of Ros an Mhíl could become a strategic hub for the floating offshore wind sector with potential for 900 jobs, according to a new report. The report, commissioned by Údarás na Gaeltachta and presented to Minister…
The edible crab Cancer pagurus
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The Islandmagee project is a proposed salt cavern gas storage facility located on Islandmagee in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.
A gas storage project, located off the coast of Northern Ireland, has been awarded a Marine Construction Licence, giving it the green light to proceed towards construction. Islandmagee Energy’s gas storage project will initially unlock seven much-needed gas storage caverns.…
Marine Ireland Industry Network logo
An upcoming webinar hosted by the Marine Ireland Industry Network aims to highlight ‘Ireland’s Blue Edge in Innovation’. The showcase of Irish marine clusters and technology companies will be hosted on the GoToWebinar platform on Thursday 30 September from 11am…
Artemis Technologies has revealed concept artwork of a crew transfer vessel (CTV) propelled by its transformative eFoilerTM. A study led by the high-performance maritime design and applied technologies company has been awarded £533,000 from the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition funded by the Department for Transport and delivered in partnership with Innovate UK to investigate how the technology will decarbonise operations in the offshore wind sector.
A study, led by high-performance maritime design and applied technologies company Artemis Technologies based on Belfast Lough has been awarded £533,000 to investigate transformative solutions to decarbonise crew transfer vessel (CTV) operations in the offshore wind sector. The grant, announced…
Kinsale Harbour - the seas off the south coast harbour have been identified for 'subsea energy storage offshore opportunities'
An ESB partnership aims to develop large scale storage for “green hydrogen” off the Cork coast which could meet up to ten per cent of current annual electricity consumption in Ireland. Up to three terawatt-hours (TWh) of “green hydrogen” and…
Simply Blue Energy aims to deliver floating wind energy for Ireland this decade but its chairwoman said the new maritime area regulatory authority needed to be in place before 2023
The State's new maritime area regulatory authority (MARA) could take up to 18 months to be established for offshore wind and other coastal activities, according to Wind Energy Ireland. As The Times Ireland reports today, the Department of Housing and…
Vice-Admiral Mark Mellett believes the development of offshore renewable energy may be a gamechanger for west coast ports
When Vice-Admiral Mark Mellett became head of our Defence Forces in September 2015, he was the first Navy officer to take the post. The Mayo man, who learned to sail at Rosmoney and around Clew Bay’s islands, has served several…
The six mile Strangford Narrows
Glasgow based Flex Marine Power has issued a Notice to Mariners regarding its activity within the Strangford Narrows in County Down in Northern Ireland. The turbine mooring system is being decommissioned and there is a workboat, and buoys marking the…
The EU is unveiling sweeping new legislation to help to meet its pledge to cut emissions of gases that cause global warming by 55% during this decade.
The European Commission has unveiled the world's most ambitious climate change plan which will heap pressure on Ireland to meet its plan to generate a huge part of electricity from offshore wind by 2030, while at the same time meeting…
Ellen Ruhotas, Managing Director of Zenith Energy, and Pearse Flynn, founder of EI-H2, pictured the two companies announced plans for a joint venture to develop a 3.2 gigawatt (GW) green energy facility Bantry Bay to produce green hydrogen and green ammonia. When fully operational, the new facility can reduce Irish carbon emissions by 2.4 million tonnes per year, which represents the equivalent of the carbon emissions of a quarter of all Irish homes.
Zenith Energy and EI-H2 have announced plans for a joint venture to develop a 3.2 gigawatt (GW) green energy facility at Bantry Bay to produce green hydrogen and green ammonia. The project will involve the engagement of key stakeholders in…
Drakes Pool in Cork Harbour - The government aims to expand a network of MPAs to cover 30% of Ireland’s total maritime area of 488, 762 square kilometres by 2030
Government officials seeking public views on an expansion of marine protected areas (MPAs) have expressed concern at the low level of feedback so far from the fishing and fish farming sectors. Officials at the Department of Housing, Heritage and Local…
The International Conference will focus on challenges involved in using offshore wind energy
The role of the marine environment in the push towards “net zero” carbon emissions is the theme of an international marine engineering conference running online later this month. The challenges involved in using offshore wind energy and the feasibility of…
Engineers from Worley
One of the world’s leading providers of engineering, procurement and construction services to the energy industry has been appointed by energy company EI-H2 to help develop Ireland’s first commercial scale green hydrogen production facility. Worley will soon enter the concept…

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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