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Displaying items by tag: Atlantic

Sailor, kayaker and climber Dr Karen Weekes is training to become the first Irish female to row solo across the Atlantic.

As Times.ie reports, Weekes aims to set out in December of this year to row 3,000 miles from La Gomera in the Canaries to Antigua in the Caribbean.

If she completes it, Weekes will be only the 20th woman to row any ocean on the globe solo.

Weekes, who is from Kilkenny and lives in Kinvara, Co Galway, holds a doctorate in sports psychology, and lectures at Munster Technological University.

She has sailed the Atlantic twice, circumnavigated both Ireland and the Lofoten Islands off Norway in a kayak, and has cycled solo and unsupported 4,000 miles across Canada, through Alaska and the Yukon.

She has also solo cycled from Nordkapp in northern Norway to Helsinki in Finland.

Along with Orla Knight, a physical education teacher at Castletroy College in Co Limerick, she cycled across North America from San Francisco to Washington DC.

Weekes has trekked in Nepal and Pakistan and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya.

“Big seas, potential capsize, severe weather or marlin attacks” might explain why only 19 women world-wide have ever completed solo ocean rows, she says of her latest adventure.

Weekes focuses on women’s empowerment as part of her “#shecando2021” campaign, which is seeking sponsors for the effort.

She says the campaign is “dually focused”, in following her preparation for, and experience during the voyage, and “providing a platform for encouraging women, and girls, to believe in their abilities to succeed”.

Read more on Times.ie here

Published in Coastal Rowing
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#Rowing: Home to Portrush and Relentless, from Cork and Dublin, look set to finish the Atlantic Challenge race in under a week. The Northern Irish crew has taken a clear fifth place and are putting in good mileage each day – they covered 88 nautical miles (163 kilometres) moving into the 27th day of the race from the Canary Islands to Antigua. The crew of George McAlpin, Ally Cooper, Gareth Barton and Luke Baker had 459 nautical miles (850 km) to the finish.

 One place behind them lie another four, Relentless. The Cork/Dublin crew have also benefitted from the favourable winds. If they continue their fine progress they will land in English Harbour in Antigua just one day after Home to Portrush, on January 15th.

 Solo oarsman Damian Browne has crossed the 1,000 nautical mile mark and has been punching in very steady times after coming through capsizes, an injured face and a damaged steering system. The Galway man, who rows as Gullivers Travels, is projected to finish on Valentine’s Day, February 14th.

Published in Rowing

#Rowing: Damian Browne twice capsized and suffered facial injuries but has continued to row in the Atlantic Challenge race. The Galway man, who competes as Gullivers Travels, posted a remarkable video on his Facebook page below telling of how he had been woken by his face “getting smashed off the side of the cabin”. He made light of the cut, which bled profusely, and the other injuries. The hours following brought another capsize and sighting of a whale which circled his boat and made eye contact with him. Browne and the two other boats from Ireland in the race, Relentless and Home to Portrush, are two weeks into the race from the Canary Islands to Antigua.

Published in Rowing

#Rowing - Dubliner Brian Conville is recovering in Tralee Hospital after being rescued by the Irish Coast Guard about 160 miles off Mizen Head this afternoon, writes Tom MacSweeney.

Experienced offshore rower Conville, 25 — who last year crossed the Pacific Ocean from California to Hawaii over 48 days — had been attempting to set a west-to-east record from Newfoundland with Joseph Gagnon, a 20-year-old science student from Quebec.

They set off from St John’s Harbour in Newfoundland a fortnight ago, originally intending to head for France, but had changed their plans and rerouted for the Irish coast, hoping to reach West Cork within the next few days.

Those plans were scuppered this morning when the pair’s boat overturned, activating its EPIRB signal which was picked up by Valentia Coast Guard.

Waterford’s coastguard helicopter Rescue 117 was quickly dispatched for a successful airlift of the two casualties, who have been treated for mild hypothermia but are said to be in good spirits, according to RTÉ News.

Speaking about the rescue, the Irish Coast Guard’s Gerard O’Flynn said: “It highlights that if you can raise the alarm and stay afloat, then you stand a very good chance of being rescued. 

“I also want to compliment the helicopter crew and Valentia [station] on a very successful operation and thank the Air Corps for their support.”

Had Conville and Gagnon completed their voyage, they would have been the second Atlantic record-setters this year after solo rower Gavan Hennigan paddled in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge this past February.

Published in Rowing
Tagged under

#ClimateChange - Preliminary results from the recent ‘health check’ of the Atlantic Ocean suggest a greater penetration of manmade chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) further into the deeper ocean since 20 years ago.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, an Irish-led international team of marine scientists from six countries set out from Newfoundland on 27 April on board the RV Celtic Explorer, to survey a transect of the Atlantic last measured two decades ago and investigate the impact of climate change on the deep ocean.

Explaining the team’s findings, Dr Evin McGovern of the Marine Institute and principal investigator on the GO-SHIP A02 survey said: “Although these chemicals have been phased out, they remain in the atmosphere and enter the ocean, where over time, they travel to the deep ocean.

“We measure the CFCs to tell the age of the water masses in the deep ocean and this helps us assess the uptake of fossil fuel carbon from the atmosphere and penetration into the deep ocean.”

The survey formed part of the Global Oceans Ship-Based Hydrographic Investigations Programme (GO-SHIP), which carries out systematic and global surveys of select hydrographic sections, through an international consortium of 16 countries and laboratories.

This was the first GO-SHIP survey to involve such a level of collaboration, with scientists from 10 leading universities and research institutes representing six countries.

Canadian Ambassador to Ireland Kevin Vickers visited the RV Celtic Explorer to meet the team in Galway following their arrival on Monday 22 May.

“This survey is a wonderful example of the Galway Statement in action as well as the longstanding collaboration on marine research between Ireland and Canada,” he said.

Marine Institute chief executive Dr Peter Heffernan added that the expedition’s scientists “are contributing to addressing some of the biggest questions for society and our interaction with our planet.”

Find out more about the survey on the [email protected] blog, where the GO-SHIP team aboard the RV Celtic Explorer recorded their work and experiences.

Published in Marine Science

#Offshore - Offshore yachts beware this summer after three British sailors had a lucky escape when their yacht collided with a whale and sank in the mid Atlantic.

According to Independent.ie, the trio from the Destiny of Scarborough were picked up by a merchant vessel some 400 miles north east of the Azores this past Sunday (21 May).

The Portuguese navy also dispatched to the location after receiving the yacht’s distress signal, but the men were safely returned to land at Aviles in Spain by the merchant ship.

Published in Offshore
Tagged under

#MarineScience - An international team of marine scientists from six countries are currently sailing on Ireland’s national research vessel RV Celtic Explorer on a transatlantic voyage to study the impact of climate change on the ocean.

Departing from St John’s in Newfoundland on Thursday 27 April — after launching the miniature yacht Lancer a few days previously — and due to arrive in Galway on 23 May, the Marine Institute-led team of experts are surveying a transect of the Atlantic Ocean last surveyed 20 years ago to investigate carbon dioxide levels in the ocean.

The survey is essential to understand and project how carbon dioxide emissions are accumulated in the oceans and the atmosphere, as well as its effects on the acidification of the ocean.

The survey is part of the Global Oceans Ship-Based Hydrographic Investigations Program (GO-SHIP), which carries out systematic and global surveys of select hydrographic sections, through an international consortium of 16 countries and laboratories.

This is the first GO-SHIP survey to involve this level of collaboration with scientists from ten leading universities and research institutes representing six countries joining the survey.

Marine Institute chief executive Dr Peter Heffernan said: “The Marine Institute is proud to lead this truly international collaboration. This GO-SHIP A02 survey is a very real example of the Galway Statement in action: working together to better understand and increase our knowledge of the Atlantic Ocean and its dynamic systems, and promoting the sustainable management of its resources.”

The Galway Statement, signed at the Marine Institute 24 May 2013, launched the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance between the EU, Canada and the USA.

The survey is co-ordinated by the Marine Institute and NUI Galway with research partners in Dalhousie University and Fisheries and Oceans, Canada; University of Exeter, United Kingdom; GEOMAR, Germany; Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Columbia University, USA; and Aarhus University, Denmark.

“Ship-based surveys are still the only way to collect the best quality measurements of fundamental physical, chemical and biological properties known as Essential Ocean Variables,” said Dr Evin McGovern of the Marine Institute and principal investigator on the GO-SHIP A02 survey.

“Although technology has provided many new methods to collect ocean measurements, there’s really no substitute for going out on the ocean on a research vessel.

“We can use satellite technology to look at certain properties the ocean surface and can deploy autonomous argo floats to take some measurements to depths of 2000, but we need to carry out ocean surveys that can measure to get a complete picture of the chemistry of the ocean at different depths up to 5,000m.

“The transect we are surveying is a really dynamic area of the Atlantic for heat transport and carbon uptake and is hugely important to informing our understanding of our global climate and how the ocean regulates our climate,” added Dr McGovern.

“The Northwest Atlantic is one of the world’s largest sinks of carbon dioxide and despite progress in our understanding there’s still a huge lack of data as it relates to climate change’s impact on the ocean and what that means for the economy and society,” said Brad de Young, a professor of physics and physical oceanography at Memorial University, Newfoundland and an Ocean Frontier Institute researcher.

“Improving our scientific understanding and developing strategic and effective solutions for safe and sustainable ocean development requires sharing of expertise, international co-operation and exchange of data and best practices. And that’s what this voyage is all about,” adds Doug Wallace, Canada Excellence research chair at Dalhousie University.

Published in Marine Science

#SUP - South African adventurer Chris Bertish has become the first man to cross the Atlantic by stand-up paddleboard, as the Guardian reports.

The big wave surfer took 93 days to traverse the ocean from Agadir in Morocco to Antigua, where Ireland’s ocean rower Gavan Hennigan set his own transatlantic record in January.

That effort required Bertish, 42, to paddle some 43 miles a day on his custom 20ft expedition paddleboard designed by Phil Morrison, the naval architect also responsible for the latest National 18 design.

The Guardian has more on the story HERE.

Published in Surfing

#Rowing: The Afloat Rower of the month for January is Gavan Hennigan. The Galway man set a new Irish record for a solo row across the Atlantic ocean. He crossed from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua in the West Indies in 49 days 11 hours 37 minutes and 21 seconds, the fastest solo row for this course. He finished a remarkable third in the 12-boat Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. He beat all the boats except two fours and won a stirring battle with the three-man crew of American Oarsmen.  

Rower of the Month awards: The judging panel is made up of Liam Gorman, rowing correspondent of The Irish Times, and David O'Brien, editor of Afloat magazine. Monthly awards for achievements during the year will appear on afloat.ie. Keep a monthly eye on progress and watch our 2017 champions list grow.

Published in Rower of Month

#Rowing: He has new rivals for his placing, but Gavan Hennigan remains in the top three of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. Facing It, a South African trio have taken over from American Oarsmen, also a trio, in fourth place. As the winds change, Hennigan’s progress has been a little slower than in recent days. However, as of midday on Wednesday, Facing It were over 60 nautical miles (over 110 km) behind the Irish solo rower on the row from the Canaries to Antigua. “Busy cementing third and working hard to stay there,” was Hennigan’s comment on his site, gavanhennigan.com.

 

Published in Rowing
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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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