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With over 60 confirmed entries at present, the 2018 Calves Week organised by Schull Harbour Sailing Club from August 7th- 10th, is again shaping up to provide competitive and exciting racing for the annual West Cork festival of sailing writes Bob Bateman.

The week will see principle sponsor Frank Whelan of Gas Analysis Services hoping to continue his winning streak on his Grand Soleil “Eleuthera”, when he will again go head to head with Conor Phelan's “Jump Juice “in class one.

EleutheraEleuthera comes to Calves Week on the back of Cork Week success Photo: Bob Bateman

This year’s event incorporates a race in the SCORA offshore series and will feature racing for six classes, with new principal race officer Alan Crosbie promising a variety of laid Buoy’s and the natural marks of Roaring water bay.

"This year’s event incorporates a race in the SCORA offshore series"

The traditional overnight, SCORA race, starts from Crosshaven on Friday night August 3rd at 19.00 Hours. On Monday, the Baltimore regatta race will provide ample opportunity for skippers and crews to familiarise themselves with Carbery’s Hundred Isles.

The opening reception and registration take place from 17.30 hours at the Fastnet Marine Centre on Monday, August 6th. The first “round the islands” race fleet starts at 11.55 on Tuesday and on Wednesday the fleets will sail a variety of courses in Long Island Bay. Thursday will see the combined fleets head for the Fastnet Rock, with the smaller boats starting first.

Calves WK 17 4903Racing at Calves Week in 2017 Photo: Bob Bateman

The series finishes on Friday with racing in Roaring Water Bay, followed by the overall presentation of prizes and closing ceremony on Schull Main Street.
Local racing on Saturday continues with Crookhaven Regatta, and for those with still some stamina left, Schull Regatta Committee finishes off the week in style with an all in Cruiser race and an impressive display of shoreside activities on Sunday.

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Friday morning in Schull must have turned into a nightmare for Calves Week Race Officer Neill Prenderville, when he awoke to find the West Cork venue covered in fog and a forecast for further wind and rain. Competitors had previously been advised of the possibility, that not all classes would be sent on a course around the Fastnet, and eventually only class 0/1 were dispatched in search of the famous rock, with the remaining fleets sailing within the confines of Roaring Water Bay in a freshening westerly breeze.

In class 1 IRC it was business as usual for Paul O'Higgins leading “Rockabill V1 around the rock, to score his fourth bullet of the series, while in Echo 1 Gabby Hogan’s local boat “Growler” finished a brilliant week with his third win in a row to take the overall Echo award, together with the best local boat trophy.

Calves WK 17 4867Muskateer (Billy Burke) from Cove Sailing Club competing at Calves Week Photo: Bob Bateman

In class 2 IRC “the “Bad Company crew from the Royal Cork completed a fantastic week to score their third win of the week, which guaranteed their capture of the overall trophy, while in Echo their club compatriot Fergus Coughlan in “Jedi” was able to discard a poor final days result to secure the coveted overall silver ware.

In class 3 IRC Dan O Donovan from Dungarvan Harbour Sailing Club, sailing his Sonar which was probably the smallest boat of the total Calves week fleet won the overall by virtue of a better last race result, while in Echo the “Muskateer” crew from Cobh SC made up for that disappointment by claiming the Echo class overall, despite a poor Last race result.

Calves WK 17 4899Seconds Count (Dan O'Donovan), a Sonar keelboat competitor, from Dungarvan Photo: Bob Bateman

In class 4 it was it was a great day at the office for the Murphy family crew in “Shelly D” Who revelled in the fresh conditions to win both divisions ahead of Richard Hanley’s “Saoirse “in IRC and Simon Nelsons “Witchcraft” in Echo.

In White sail 1 Dennis Murphy’s finished off a fantastic week by taking the overall trophies in both IRC and Echo with his family crew in “Nieulargo”, while in White Sail 2 Andrew Mackey’s “Lornadrew” comfortably won the overall despite coming home second to Debroah Crowley’s “La Perie Noir” in the final race.  At the award presentation, the Pearson trophy was awarded to Oonagh Buckley for her work in promoting Calves Week for many years.

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Today's Fastnet race turns into a victory lap for the new Calves Week champ. A forecast of fresher winds has required some contingency planning for what is now Calves Week’s big finale, but after a dominant display that matched her D2D victory in June, Paul O’Higgins’ JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI has started today’s rescheduled Fastnet Race as Schull’s newly crowned IRC1 champion
Meanwhile, Winkie Nixon explains how the winner of the other Fastnet Race literally came out of nowhere (don’t miss his Sailing on Saturday blog to find out if Irish sail students claim any RORC silverware tonight), Greystones GP14 pair MacCarthy & Thompson have it all to do on the final day of the British Nationals, and we have class-by-class results from last night’s DBSC action.

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Following the postponement of Calves Week's scheduled Fastnet race, Thursday's racing took place, with the start line off the mouth of Schull harbour in West Cork in a building westerly breeze which eventually reached 12/14 knots. All the fleets raced through the Castle Island and Long Island sounds, with the larger fleets making multiple circuits.

In class 1 IRC Paul O Higgins continued his domination of the fleet, with a victory which ensures that “Rockabill”1V has won the class overall, before any discard, while Conor Doyle’s “Freya “took second on the day. In Echo it was a second consecutive win for Gabby Hogan’s “Growler” ahead of Andrew Craig’s “Chimaera”.

In class 2 “Bad Company” sailed a great race to win both divisions ahead of Fergus Coughlan’s “Jedi “in IRC and Kevin Doyle’s “Jamaro” from Cobh S.C in Echo.

In Class 3 the “Muskateer”crew from Cobh S.C had another excellent outing, to win in both IRC and Echo from David Buckley’s “Boojum” and Diarmuid Dineen’s “Growler”.

In class 4 Echo it was a first win of the series for Kevin Murray and his local crew on “Dovita of Colla” while the Murphy family on “Shelly D” had a first in IRC and second in Echo.

In the White sail class Sean O Riordan's “Y Dream” sailed to victory in IRC ahead of Denis Murphy’s “Nieulargo”,while in Echo it was local Schull boat “Quinsea” with Barry Quinlan on the helm who took the trophy ahead of Tom O Mahoney’s “Loch Greine, while in White sail 2 the honours went to Don Buckley’s “Zeezwan” from Paul Taylors “Sea Psalm”.

With much fresher weather forecasted for today's Fastnet race, a contingency plan has been put in place which may see only the larger boats attempting to round the rock, while the remaining fleets enjoy the relative comfort of an inshore course.

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Calves Week OD Neill Prenderville certainly got his fleet into the feelgood mood,when he requested over the VHF that all competitors smile for the RTE camera crew covering the event prior to the start of the second race of the series in Schull, West Cork yesterday.

With the northerly wind prevailing for the second day, the various courses took all the fleet through Long Island sound and around Goat Island before round various marks in Roaring water Bay.

In class 1 IRC Paul O'Higgins 'Rockabill VI' continues to dominate the fleet with another clear victory while in Echo is was Gabby Hogan’s “Growler ”who took the trophy in a fleet where event sponsor Frank Whelan was forced to retire following an incident with Leslie Parnell’s “Black Velvet”.

In class 2 Fergus Coughlans “Jedi” had a clean sweep in both IRC and Echo ahead of “Bad Company” from the Royal Cork and Henry Hogs “Lisador” from the Garrykennedy Sailing Club.

In class 3 IRC, Dungarvan boat “Seconds Count” had a tight victory over “Muskateer” from Cobh, who also had to settle for second in Echo from Richard Lords “Blue Peregrine”.

Class 4 IRC was won by Richard Hanley’s “Saoirse” from KInsale, while Simon Nelsons “Witchcraft “was victorious in Echo.

White sail 1 was dominated by Aidan Heffernan’s “Indulgence”, with victory in both divisions, while Andrew Mackey’s “Lornadrew” won White Sail 2.

At a crowded presentation on Schull Main Street, Commodore Pat Maher announced that the traditional Fastnet race was postponed until Friday due to the light weather conditions forecasted for Thursday.

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Calves Week 2017 Regatta kicked off today in West Cork and Bob Bateman captured the action for Afloat.ie in the photo gallery below.

The opening day started out clear and bright with a light northerly wind, forcing OD Niall Prendeville to lay his start line off the Calve Islands with a windward mark off the entrance to Schull harbour. The fickle wind caused problems for most classes with a period of rain adding to the misery at times .However as the front passed through the fleet of close to sixty boats finished in Schull harbour in glorious sunshine with a freshening breeze.

Calves WK 17 4913

Class 0/1 had the longest course of the day; taking in three rounding’s of the Calves; however a protest over a mark on the course resulted in their presentation being put on hold, pending a protest hearing.

In class two IRC, the Royal Cork's “ Bad Company” revelled in the variable conditions to take first place ahead of Flor O Riordans “ 3 Cheers”, while the Echo trophy went to Fergus Coughlan’s” Jedi “ahead of Derry Nash in Catalpa.

Class three proved very fruitful for” Musketeer” from Cove Sailing Club, who won both divisions ahead of Dan Donovan’s “ Second Count “ in IRC and local Schull boat “ Sally In Stiches” sailed by the Dwyer family in echo.

Local Schull boats again dominated class 4, with the Murphy family in “Shelly D” taking prime position in both IRC and echo ahead of Kinsale's Richard Hanley sailing” Saoirse” in IRC and Simon Nelson's” Witchcraft” in echo.

The top three in White sail 1 were similar in both IRC and Echo with Denis Murphy’s “Nieulargo” taking top place ahead of Sean O Riordan in” Y Dream” and Aiden Heffernans” Indulgence”, while White sail 2 saw the prizes go to local Schull boats, with Andrew Mackey's “Lornadrew” winning ahead of Peter Moorhead's “Giggles” and Tralee Sailing Club's Paul Taylor in “ Sea Psalm”.

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Baltimore will become a centre for sailing over the next few weeks. This August weekend the annual sailing trek to the waters around Carbery’s Hundred Isles will get underway with the annual overnight race from Crosshaven to Schull. For the next few weeks the Cork sailing fraternity will be joined by boats from the East Coast, taking in events like Calves Week, Baltimore Regatta, racing around the Fastnet and the legendary Cape Clear Regatta.

The date when the club was founded varies, according to which account you take it from. A list of Commodores in the club starts in 1952 but a letter dated 3rd August 1976, written by Frank Murphy, who was the first Secretary of the club, stated that the club was founded in the summer of 1953. However, the Minutes of a Meeting held at Salters premises in Baltimore on Saturday 28th July 1956 state that "It was unanimously felt that a Sailing Club should be formed”

On my podcast this week I talk to a former Commodore of the Club, Gerald O’Flynn, who puts that date as the one when the club was formed.

Its story, set up originally as a Summer sailing club for Cork families with second homes in the fishing village, began when some of those seasonal residents lost boats in storms while they were kept at nearby Tragumna beach.

Gerald O’Flynn tells the story of boats built and bought for £75 each in ‘old’ money; about a ‘bastard-type’ of National 18, Enterprises and Fireball dinghies used by the club, the running of National Dinghy Week and the time when the club annoyed locals by covering grass areas on the pier with concrete. It’s a fascinating story about a club with a strong family emphasis which he told me in its modern premises which these days operates for a wider period than just Summer.

Listen to the PODCAST here:

• Tom MacSweeney presents THIS ISLAND NATION radio programme on local stations around Ireland.

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Calves Week …. A fun event with an underlying level of quite serious racing.” WM Nixon's recent description of Calves Week describes very precisely what the organisers, Schull Harbour Sailing Club aim for every year. Club commodore Pat Maher said that each year they get more boats returning with family crew to combine a summer vacation with spectacular sailing through Carbary’s 100 isles.

This year’s event will feature racing for six classes, with the ever-growing white sail class split into two fleets, with all south coast boats also competing in the Scora League.

Calves Week SailingAbove and below: Calves Week Sailing action Photos Bob Bateman

The traditional overnight, offshore race starts from Crosshaven on Friday August 4th While the following Monday’s Baltimore regatta will provide an opportunity for skippers and crew to familiarise themselves with Roaring Water Bay, where principle race officer, Neil Prenderville hopes to set up a variety of courses taking in the many Islands and natural marks over the following four days.

With over 30 confirmed entries having availed of the discounted early registration fee, the pressure is on to beat the 1st July cut-off date, while the overall entry is once again expected to top the 60 boat mark.

Calves Week SailingCalves Week SailingCalves Week SailingCalves Week SailingCalves Week SailingCalves Week SailingCalves Week Sailing

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With just over six weeks to the Sherry Fitzgerald sponsored Dublin Bay Sailing Club season the stand–out class of the year looks like Cruisers One where a 20–boat fleet has 13 J/109s among its number. It's an impressive result that bodes well for a very competitive season but in the neighbouring big boat class should something be done to assist falling numbers in Cruisers Zero?

A story this week on Afloat.ie shows George Sisk's Wow from the Royal Irish Yacht Club is on the market. With only four other entries presently in DBSC Cruisers Zero is it now time to dispense with a Cruisers Zero class on Dublin Bay and rearrange the bands to take some lower–rated Cruisers One boats back into Cruisers Two?

Such a scenario is unlikely with the news that Sisk's WOW will be campaigned fully this season and a new Sisk forty footer is in the wings. In fact, there is also the possibility that Cruisers Zero could reach six boats this season with another new boat – yet to be announced – coming into the Bay. 

There is also talk of DBSC moving the Cruisers One band lower to move some Cruisers One boats into Cruisers Zero but is that the answer?

Cruisers Zero was never that particularly strong in Dublin Bay and generally came about to ensure they got decent length races as the Cruisers One boats were considerably slower. However with the ever increasing speed of Cruisers One boats the gap in elapsed time between Cruisers Zero and Cruisers One has been reducing considerably.

WOW Farr 42Cruisers Zero Farr 42 Wow is for sale but will be replaced with a similar sized boat Photo: Afloat.ie

Cruisers One, spearheaded by the J109 designs, is clearly the strongest class in DBSC and likely in the country. Since the J109 class moved to non–overlapping jibs and consistently updated their sail wardrobes with the latest in sail technologies, they have been getting quicker and quicker.

Joker 2 J109ICRA Boat of the Year, Joker 2, a J109 from the Royal Irish Yacht Club. Photo: Afloat.ie

Three of the last four ICRA championships in Cruisers One have been won by J109’s including the last two years (Joker II) and the 2016 ICRA Boat of the Year is also a J109 (Joker II). A J109 also was a class winner in the Round Ireland race 2016 (Storm). The J109 class has pushed others in Cruisers One to up their game and now we see both the Archambault 35s Gringo and Adrenalin becoming much more competitive, along with the XP33 Bon Exemple that has gone through many changes over the last few year (symmetric to Asymmetric and back again, lowering their rating). Add to this Paul O'Higgins mighty Rockabill VI, the JPK 10.80, and Cruisers One is the strongest it has ever been.

Rockabill VI JPK10.80Paul O'Higgins mighty Rockabill VI, the JPK 10.80 design will be unstoppable in heavy airs. Photo: Afloat.ie

At the start of last season Tim Goodbody brought in the J109 White Mischief and two further J109’s have entered the fleet in the last six months, Andrew Algeo's Juggerknot and Andrew Craig's Chimeara. All three are seasoned campaigners and will surely drive the fleet further.

White Mischief J109Recent arrival – Tim Goodbody's White Mischief J109 was immediately competitive Photo: Afloat.ie

Gringo A35The A35 Gringo has a flatter stern and quick dead downwind. Photo: Afloat.ie

So who will be on the DBSC podiums this year in Cruisers One and also Cruisers One at ICRAs? With 13 J109’s competing surely the podium will be stacked with these 15–year–old designs? They are extremely competitive in lighter airs and can hold their own when the breeze gets up. Their only weakness is running in stronger winds where the lighter, and flatter sterned modern designs, like the A 35’s and XP 33’s can pull their poles back and go straight downwind, whereas the asymmetric J109’s have to do higher angles.

Bon Exemple XP33XP33 Bon Exemple – different spinnaker configurations. Photo: Afloat.ie

If, however, the winds stay stronger for a whole series, like ICRA's 2015, it will be very hard to beat Rockabill VI. This boat is extremely powerful and will go upwind and downwind much faster than the rest of the fleet in a breeze, even taking into account her higher handicap. However it appears she has a weakness in light airs and one day of these conditions in a series might be a problem for her.

Three in a Row for Joker II at ICRAs?

Among the J109’s the top performer from 2016, John Maybury's Joker 2 is going for three in a row at ICRA's having won in 2015 and 2016. She will not have it all her own way however as Tim Goodbody's White Mischief and Pat Kelly's Storm are always very competitive. The newly arrived Chimeara and Juggerknot might also have something to say. The A35 Gringo has shown a lot of form as has Bon Exemple. At ICRAs you will also likely be seeing the A35 Fools Gold of Rob O'Connell in contention as he has done in the last two events.

Packed Season

2017 is set to be a very interesting year for this ever strengthening class with 3 large events in Ireland for them to battle it out. The ICRA Championships in Cork Harbour in June, ten days later, Sovereigns Cup in Kinsale, and a few weeks after that Dun Laoghaire Regatta Some may also venture to Tarbert in Late May, Calves Week in Early August and Abersoch week in Late August. There are plenty of good events available and some great racing ahead. Allied to all of this a great regular racing scene in Cruisers One in the DBSC series.

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The final race of GAS Calves Week 2016, the Fastnet Race, took place on Friday 5th August in sunshine and light westerly winds of 9-13 knots. The Principal Race Officer, Neil Prendiville, moved the race around the Rock from its usual Thursday slot to avoid sending the 73 crews entered in the Regatta through a heavy Atlantic swell pushed up by the gale that passed through earlier in the week.

The mild conditions allowed Neil to send the Class 0/1 fleet on a 25 mile long route to a windward mark by Long Island, and then east through the Gascanane Sound around Clear Island and on a windward leg up to the Rock. The lead boats finished in just under 4 hours to round off a successful week of sailing. The other fleets were sent on a more direct route, to the windward mark and out to the Rock, with the Class 2 and 3, and larger Whitesail boats, set an extra challenge to round Goat Island to the north east before heading back to the harbour.

In class 1 Paul O Higgins’ new flying machine ,the JPK 10.80 with Mark Mansfield on the helm, had done enough in the Tuesday and Thursday racing to hold off all challengers to win both Class 1 IRC and Echo overall, ahead of Royal Cork’s True Penance (Darrer/Garvey) in IRC and Chris Moore’s J109 Powder Monkey from the National Yacht Club.

In class 2 the Desmond/Ivers /Deasey, Bad Company secured a first place in the Fastnet Race to hold off the challenge in IRC of Ernie Dillon’s Rioja while in Echo Andrew Algeo from the home sailing club had done enough to win the class overall despite Corby 25 Smile, Rob Allen from Galway Bay securing a first in the Fastnet Race.

In class 3 IRC the J 24 YaGottaWanna’s second in the Fastnet Race was enough to secure an overall win of the series to stay marginally ahead of David Buckley’s Boojum from Tralee Sailing Club. Boojum was also unlucky to miss out on the ECHO win to local boat Quinsea sailed by brothers Barry and Denis Quinlan whose first place in the Fastnet Race was enough to secure the series win and the coveted Best Local Boat award.

In Class 4 the Kirby/Norris crewed Raffles edged out Kinsale’s Saoirse, helmed by Richard Hanley for the series in both IRC and Echo despite Saoirse’s win of the Fastnet Race in both classes.
In the white sail 1 IRC class Brian Heffernan’s Aisling won the class ahead of Act Two from the Royal Irish, and ahead of his relation Aidan Heffernan’s Indulgence in Echo.

In class 2 WS KYC member John O Regan in Main 4 managed to hold off the challenge by fellow club member Stephen Lysaght on Reavra for the series win.

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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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W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
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