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Power From The Sea
A new Wind-Farm Service Vessel (WFSV) of a design from Incat Crowther's Windflex27 series is been built for an Irish marine business with completion in Asia due in Q2, 2021.
Naval architects Incat Crowther with offices in Australia, USA and the UK has announced the construction of a 27m Catamaran Wind Farm Service Vessel (WFSV) to an Irish marine company.  The newbuild is the third of Penguin Shipyard's Windflex 27…
Pearse Flynn of Green Rebel Marine - listen to him on the podcast below
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,…
Mark O'Reilly, Trudy McIntyre and David Hyde of Fisheries Liaisons pictured at Crosshaven Boatyard
Green Rebel Marine, the Cork-based business established to service the future needs of offshore wind farms, has announced a new strategic partnership with Fisheries Liaisons Ltd. The partnership is seen as being a key factor in communicating with the wider…
An illustration from the WindEurope Flagship report
Each new wind turbine built in Europe generates €10 million worth of economic activity, according to a European industry network. A new report by WindEurope also says investing in wind energy will help Europe’s economic recovery from the impacts of…
The MPI Resolution was the world's first purpose-built vessel for installing offshore wind turbines and AFLOAT adds the speciliast ship is seen berthed at the inner harbour of Holyhead.  Early in its career the ship made a call on the other side of the Irish Sea when berthing in Dublin Port.
On the Irish Sea a giant wind turbine vessel has had its departure from the Port of Holyhead delayed by the weather. MPI Resolution arrived at the port on Thursday after sailing in from Rotterdam - with its towering 220ft…
Mr Flynn, who is originally from East Cork, owns and heads up UK debt solution company Creditfix.
Irish businessman Pearse Flynn who made his fortune in the tech and telecoms has announced a €10m investment in a green energy project in Cork Harbour that aims to create 80 jobs within two years. Flynn has acquired Crosshaven Boatyard…
The new ship, 2015 built Mainport Geo is 50 m LOA
Cork based shipping company, Irish Mainport Holdings, has announced its entry into the Offshore Wind Sector with its investment in a 50-metre Survey and Research Ship, the Mainport Geo, and at the same time buying a share of Wicklow based…
The survey ship named Ridley is now exploring suitable seabed approaches from Galway out to the boundary of the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ)
Iceland has selected Galway as the European landing location for international telecommunications cables. Farice, a company fully owned by the Icelandic Government, currently owns and operates two submarine cables linking Iceland to Northern Europe. It has been undertaking preparatory work…
World Maritime Day "Lá Mara" to be Marked by Udaras na Gaeltachta Marine Webinar
Ireland’s “blue economy” and the opportunities for Gaeltacht communities will be debated at a marine “webinar” hosted by State agency Udarás na Gaeltachta on Thursday to mark world maritime day. Offshore renewable energy, standards for sustainable harvesting of both wild…
Alpha Marine’s tug Husky at SSE Renewables’ Arklow Bank wind farm off Co Wicklow
SSE Renewables recently hosted a virtual round table discussion with key stakeholders in the wind energy industry, examining their role in delivering on the Irish Government’s ambition for offshore wind energy. Among those taking part was Paul Brewster of the…
GMIT’s Galway campus
SmartBay Ireland have collaborated with the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) to launch a new scholarship scheme for a candidate from the Connemara Gaeltacht to begin a Master’s research programme. Commencing in November 2020, the new programme aims to develop…
Kinsale gas fields, which were discovered in 1971, once supplied all the State’s natural gas. Above Afloat adds is the Alpha platform, one of two that form the offshore facility in the Celtic Sea off the Cork coast.
A multimillion euro contract to decommission one of the State’s largest gas fields was won to a division of the Stena Group which includes the large ferry operator.  The move comes after the Government earlier this year, as the Irish Times…
Dr Deirdre Garvey, Chair of the Western Development Commission, Tomás-Ó-Síocháin CEO of the Western Development Commission, Dr-Helen McHenry, WDC and author of the report, Minister for rural development, Heather Humphreys
Renewable sources in the west are already generating more energy than the region needs, even before offshore energy sources are developed, a new report states. Forecasts that connected renewable generation will “more than double” before 2030 mean there must be…
Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Eamon Ryan T.D
​​The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Eamon Ryan T.D. today (20th July 2020), announced that Ireland has received State aid approval from the European Union to operate a new Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) out to 2025. Minister…
Floating Wind Technology a "Game Changer" for Ireland -Eirwind Blueprint Forecasts
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…
Offshore wind turbines used by Simply Blue Energy, which may be deployed off the Cork coast if a license is approved
An Irish renewable energy company is exploring the development of this island's first floating offshore wind farm close to the Kinsale gas field. Youghal company Simply Blue Energy is already involved with French giant Total in a project to build…

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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