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Displaying items by tag: Carlingford

The Loughs Agency reminds anglers of the annual close season, which prohibits angling over the winter months to help protect salmon and sea trout from disturbance when spawning.

The Foyle Area and Carlingford Area (Close Seasons for Angling) Regulations prohibit fishing for salmon and sea trout over the winter, with fishing due to resume in early 2022.

The annual close season for salmon and sea trout began last Thursday 21 October in the Foyle catchment, and starts Monday 1 November in the Carlingford catchment.

As closing dates vary slightly across the catchments, Loughs Agency encourages anglers to check season dates for each river on the Loughs Agency website and social media platforms, as well as with fishery owners to ensure they are up to date on local restrictions.

The State of the Salmon report published recently by the international lead on salmon management, the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO), highlights the worrying and continuous decline in the populations of the Atlantic salmon.

NASCO states: “It now takes about double the number of eggs to produce one adult (compared to 1990s) that will return to that same river to spawn – an indication of the multiple pressures facing the species throughout its complex life cycle.”

Lough Agency chief executive Sharon McMahon said: “The annual close season is an important time of year. Reducing disturbances on fish when they are spawning and at their most vulnerable helps protect stocks for the future.

“We recognise that angling is not the sole cause of stock decline, but by observing the close season, anglers are ‘playing their part’ in boosting the long-term resilience and sustainability of iconic fish species.”

John McCartney, director of conservation and protection at the Loughs Agency, added: “We all must take a forward-thinking approach based on the latest scientific guidance that balances responsible angling and sustainability.”

As the game fishing season ends for 2021, anglers are reminded to update their catch return and fishing effort on the Loughs Agency elicence website.

Anglers who wish to fish during the winter months are permitted to catch coarse fish such as perch, roach and bream, for which a valid coarse fishing licence is required.

During the close season, Loughs Agency fishery officers patrol riverbanks to prevent illegal fishing and protect fisheries. Anglers found fishing out of season will be prosecuted through the courts.

The Loughs Agency encourages members of the public to make direct and prompt illegal fishing reports either through the 24-hour response line at +44 28 7134 2100 or through the WaterWatch reporting tool.

Published in Angling

Carlingford Sailing Club, in conjunction with Dublin University Sailing Club, hosted the IUSA Eastern Team Racing Championship on the weekend of 23rd/24th of October, with 24 teams from nine universities, 144 competitors in total fighting it out to see who would be crowned champions after a 19-month delay in competitions. It was worth waiting for as the combined energy of the competitors and volunteers pulled off one of the most spectacular team racing events witnessed on these waters for some considerable time.

This was one of the biggest sporting events run on the water in 2021, and probably the biggest on Carlingford Lough since the fabled Oyster Festival series.

 IUSA Eastern Team Racing Championship

The Carlingford Sailing Club organisation, spearheaded by Commodore Áine Gorman, Sailing Secretary Ross McEntegart, and Committee Member Diarmuid Gorman, supported by the club members, was a spectacular success. This is a continuation of the strong growth that has taken root in the club over the last 18 months. In particular, the membership volunteers came from all categories, from junior/youth to adult and family. Carlingford Sailing Clubs fleet of ribs and support boats was supplemented by the generous loan of ribs from The Lough's agency (driven by Dave Clarke of the LA), Barnarde and Gerard Kilgallon, and James Ives, tenders from Carlingford Swimmers and NUI Galway, as well as the pontoon for excess changeovers from Carlingford Adventure Centre. The IUSA, their umpires, and supporting staff, again spread across generations, hit the ground running and dove-tailed with the CSC organisation so that the event ran without a hitch to the finals on the Sunday afternoon.

team racing carlingford

The planning for the event started in 2020, but the set up on the water commenced on Friday afternoon as the committee boat was launched, and ribs and support boats were made ready to be parked in the Marina to counter any problems with low tides. The clubhouse was made ready to provide competitors with butties, burgers and refreshments over the weekend, and the competitor boats arrived to be set up in the dinghy park. IUSA organisers and umpires met with CSC to walk over the plans, and then we were ready for the start on Saturday. The weather forecast worryingly, for the Saturday was Force 5, gusting to 7 which would risk equipment damage.

On the Saturday morning, it was clear, thanks to the shelter of the Cooley Peninsula, that the conditions were ideal with a steady Force 3 wind. CSC volunteers were ready cooking breakfast butties at 8am, and the competitors arrived to get their boats ready. The event had to be run under Covid 19 restrictions, with limits on changing facilities. From the first arrivals it was clear that all the participants were keen to comply, and this was the case through the full duration of the event. Chief Umpire Eunice Kennedy gave the fleet briefing at 9 am, accompanied by DUSC Captain Kate Lyttle.

Then it was all systems go, at a blistering pace, with Umpire ribs, safety boat and ferries on the water at 9.30, the committee boat, course, and finish boat in position at 10 am, ready for the first race which started at 10.30am. The competitors, who were waiting to be ferried out for their races congregated at the end of the pier, many of them sitting on the wall which provided a grandstand view of the racing, with up to 3 matches ongoing at any one time. Down at the steps, where the ferries were shuttling competitors back and forth, the rest of the students congregated, most chatting, some sleeping, some readying themselves for the challenge on the water. Music was playing, there was serious competition, but there was also a bit of a celebration as competitors and friends were re-united after over a year's distance.

Ross McEntegart CSC, ferried competitorsRoss McEntegart CSC, ferried competitors

The ferries kept moved competitors without delay, crews changed over, matches were close fought, the umpires criss-crossed the matches in ribs driven by CSC members, handing out rule decisions. On the water, there was much flag waving to signal penalties or compliance with rules by umpires, shouting of messages across boats to co-ordinate their teams, and manoeuvring of competitors to gain team advantage, followed intently by the crowd on the harbour wall as they worked out how their comrades and competitors were faring against each other as the day went on. The wind freshened at about 2 pm and there were a few capsizes, but there was no disruption to the sequence of matches which continued unabated. By 5.30pm 73 out of the 84 round robin matches had been sailed, the progress had been above expectations, as normally only about 60 matches are sailed on the first day. The IUSA team put this down to the extremely slick operation by CSC on the water, and, in particular, the efficiency of the ferry service which had kept crew changeover times to an absolute minimum. The competitors went away happy, expectant of another day's wonderful sailing, and we all knew that the event was already a roaring success.

Ruth Browne, Áine Gorman, Deirdre Williams, Lara DuPlessis, Denise and Duncan Foster take a break while the action is on the waterRuth Browne, Áine Gorman, Deirdre Williams, Lara DuPlessis, Denise and Duncan Foster take a break while the action is on the water

Sunday came, and the weather held. The sun even came out to add sparkle to the champagne sailing. The round robin was concluded enabling the Quarter, Semi, and Finals to proceed for the Platinum, Gold and Silver Fleets from lunchtime onwards. There was a major shock in the Platinum Fleet when 8th seed TCD3 knocked out 1st seed UCC1. However, they in turn were knocked out by UCD1 in their semi-final, who went on to beat TCD1 in a best of 5 final 3-1.

The final results were, Platinum: UCD 1, Gold: UCD 3, Silver: UL 1

In the fleet divisions, TCD3 were promoted to Platinum, UCD4 were promoted to Gold, UCC2 were relegated to Gold, and NUIG2 were relegated to Silver.

The umpires and the IUSA team were full of praise for the event organisation and expressed their wish that they could come back to Carlingford Sailing Club again. Kate Lyttle Captain of Dublin University Sailing Club commented "On behalf of Trinity Sailing and the Irish University Sailing Association I want to thank the team at Carlingford Sailing Club for their help in running a fantastic event. The team at Carlingford Sailing Club were extremely accommodating. We had a full round robin of 84 races and completed quarters, semis, and finals for all three fleets. The event was a great success and enjoyed by all."

 IUSA Eastern Team Racing Championship Carlingfrod

This event could not have happened without a considerable amount of voluntary effort. They were:

Carlingford SC

  • Umpire Drivers – Pat McCormick, Jim Garvey, Gerard Kilgallon, Miriam Donnelly, Áine Gorman, and Justin Blake
  • Safety and Mark Laying – Francis Donnelly, Diarmuid Gorman, Ross McEntegart, and Fiachra McCormick
  • Ferries – Dave Clarke (Loughs Agency), Ruth Browne, Terry Lenehan, Torin Fleming, Shane Mulligan, Maxi Sochor, Fiachra McCormick
  • Clubhouse/Facilities – Áine Gorman, Barnarde Kilgallon, Donal McCormick, Miriam Donnelly, Peter Bastible, Eddie Conway, Deirdre Williams, Lara Du Plessis, Brenda McGoey, Denise Foster, Gearóid O'Sullivan

CSC Commodore Áine Gorman at the helm as competitors get ready to sailCSC Commodore Áine Gorman at the helm as competitors get ready to sail

DUSC/IUSA

  • Umpires – Eunice Kennedy, Dave Sheehan, Ailbe Millerick
  • DUSC Captain Kate Lyttle 
  • DUSC Events Secretary: Emily Arrowsmith 
  • DUSC Sailing Secretary: Issy Larkin 
  • USA President: Niamh Doran
  • IUSA Vice President: Johnny Durcan
  • Race Officers: Sandy Aplin and Ciaran Finnegan
  • Finish boat: Sarah MacFeely and Rachel Carr
  • Race Office: Toby Hudson Fowler
  • Beachmaster: Robbie Dix
Published in Team Racing
Tagged under

The summer season sees Carlingford Lough Ferry kicking off with the launch of its passenger 'cruise' schedule.

As Dundalk Democrat writes, last week dates were released for their June Sunset cruises, which commences this Saturday June 12th and tickets are already being snapped up.

Carlingford Lough is an area of outstanding natural beauty, and is at its most beautiful as the sun sets over the Cooley Peninsula and the majestic Mourne Mountains.

These new sunset lough cruises are specifically designed to offer customers the opportunity to take a safe and socially distanced cruise on the iconic Carlingford Lough.

While onboard (Aisling Gabrielle), passengers will enjoy a fascinating audio tour, that will offer insights into the myths and legends of this majestic Lough, its formation as a glacial fjord, and its abundance of wildlife and bird life, in addition to live music and entertainment.

Carlingford Lough Ferry launched it’s passenger cruise service, ‘Carlingford Lough Cruises’ in 2019, and these passenger cruises on the Lough have since proved extremely popular with the number of cruises increasing annually.

This summer, they are extending their range of cruises once again and offering a host of new cruise experiences.

Their popular Lough & Lighthouse cruises return throughout July and August, with June featuring a new Sunset inner Lough cruise to start the summer season of cruises.

For more details on other themed cruises and prices click here.

Published in Ferry

While some anglers enjoyed success on the rivers within Foyle and Carlingford in 2020, the Loughs Agency says it continues to take a precautionary approach in line with national and international trends.

The State of the Salmon Report published by the international lead on salmon management, the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO), highlights the worrying and continuous decline in the populations of the Atlantic salmon.

NASCO states: “It now takes about double the amount of eggs to produce one adult (compared to 1990s) that will return to that same river to spawn — an indication of the multiple pressures facing the species throughout its complex life cycle.”

This decline continues to be reflected locally, the Loughs Agency warns, with rivers such as the Finn in Co Donegal failing to reach their conservation targets in 2020 and therefore will continue to operate on a catch and release basis for the 2021 season.

Now the agency is calling on anglers to take steps to ensure sustainability of the fisheries of Foyle and Carlingford. Anglers are encouraged to:

  • Update their catch return and fishing effort regularly throughout the season on the eLicence website. This data is used to help Loughs Agency manage the fishery using real-time data.

  • Keep the Loughs Agency’s 24hr Response Line telephone number +(0) 44 2871 342100 as a contact on their phone and report any concerns directly and promptly. The Loughs Agency relies on reports of illegal fishing and pollution from the public.
  • Practice catch and release. Many anglers already do this, with around 45% of anglers not taking carcass tags when they purchase their licence.

  • Implement biosecurity measures to prevent the spread of invasive species.

  • For the 2021 season, the Loughs Agency is issuing a maximum of one blue tag for the period 1 March to 31 May and/or a maximum two black tags for the period 1 June to 31 October, depending on the type of licence purchased. Tackle shops have been instructed not to issue more than these maximum quantities for the 2021 season.

The rivers Film and Foyle opened this past Monday 1 March, signalling the start of the salmon, sea trout and wild brown trout angling season. However, game, coarse and sea angling is already available in both catchments.

For still water game anglers, Binevenagh Lake opened on 1 February. The lake lies on a basalt plateau that towers over Lough Foyle and its flanking lowlands below with the famed hills of Donegal beyond.

The 3.2 hectare lake is regularly stocked with rainbow trout by DAERA Inland Fisheries and successful flies include Bibio and Buzzer patterns.

Fly fishing, spinning and worm fishing are permitted and the fishery has a daily bag limit of four trout per rod. A Loughs Agency game rod licence and a DAERA game angling permit are required to fish this water.

Some private fisheries are also operating and offer fishing for rainbow trout including Ballyheather, Altmore, Birchwood, Cashel, Termon, Oaks, Glenowen, and Duncrun Fishery in the Foyle area. In the Carlingford area, Donaghaguy Reservoir is open for trout fishing. A Loughs Agency game licence and a permit from the relevant fishery are required to fish these waters.

Coarse angling on the Newry Canal (Photo: Loughs Agency)Coarse angling on the Newry Canal | Photo: Loughs Agency

Coarse angling is permitted all year round, but the climate impacts on which species can be targeted. While tench, bream and rudd are active in warmer weather, roach and perch feed in all seasons and make good year round fishing for the coarse angler.

In the Foyle area, coarse fishing is currently available at Aghlisk Lough, Baronscourt Lakes, Enagh Lough, Longvale and Lough Muck near Omagh. In Carlingford, anglers can also fish for roach and perch at Bessbrook, Camlough, Derryleckagh, Drumlough, Greenan Lough, Mill Dam, Milltown Lough and in Newry Canal. A Loughs Agency coarse licence and permission from the relevant fishery owner is required to fish these lakes. In some cases a day ticket must be purchased.

The marine waters in Foyle and Carlingford offer fantastic sea angling with stunning landscapes and seascape backdrops. Flounder, bass, dogfish, dab, rockling, conger, pollock and ray are likely catches for the shore angler.

The Foyle area has over 90 miles of coastline of inlets, beaches, estuaries and rocky shores from which to cast from, while Carlingford offers almost 30 miles of coastline opportunities to fish. No licence is required for sea angling, but if fishing for salmon or sea trout a Loughs Agency game licence is required for the season.

Anglers are reminded to comply with the latest government advice and restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19. For further information on season dates, licence and permit requirements in the Foyle and Carlingford areas, visit the Loughs Agency website’s angling section HERE.

Published in Angling

The Loughs Agency has launched a new campaign appealing for angling enthusiasts to embrace the practice of catch and release to help sustain fish stocks in the Foyle and Carlingford areas.

The agency says it welcomes the growing trend of catch and release angling as a way of continuing to fish while limiting the impact on local stocks.

And it has produced a video guide to help anglers with their catch and release technique in order to increase the survival rate of salmon after release.

John McCartney, the agency’s director of conservation and protection, also explains the carcass tagging scheme which applies to salmon, brown trout and sea trout retained by recreational anglers, and highlighted the importance of returning any unused tags.

The Loughs Agency is aiming for a catch and release rate of over 80% for salmon and sea trout caught during the new season which is now partially underway.

It also wants to further reduce the number of anglers opting to take tags when purchasing a licence. 

‘The agency welcomes this approach to angling and would encourage all anglers to practice this method’

 McCartney says: “Last year, 45% of anglers purchasing a licence opted not to take tags and there is a growing trend of anglers implementing the practice of catch and release.

“The agency welcomes this approach to angling and would encourage all anglers to practice this method as a way of continuing to fish, whilst limiting the impact on local stocks.

“Numbered tags are allocated to anglers who request them when they purchase their licence. The angler then records their retained catch and the corresponding carcass tag number when updating their catch return during the fishing season, returning any unused tags to Loughs Agency when their licence expires.

“The catch return data from anglers is analysed throughout the season and used to make fishery management decisions to ensure the sustainability of species in Foyle and Carlingford.”

For the 2021 season, the Loughs Agency is issuing a maximum of one blue tag for the period from 1 March to 31 May and/or a maximum of two black tags for the period from 1 June to 31 October, depending on the type of licence purchased. Tackle shops have been instructed not to issue more than these maximum quantities for the 2021 season.

The above video guide to good practice for anglers with their catch and release technique includes the following pointers:

  • Landing the fish quickly to avoid exhausting the fish.
  • Use a soft knotless mesh net and keep the fish in the water at all times.
  • If you must handle the fish, use wet hands and cradle it below the belly. Never put your fingers inside the gill covers or lift the fish by the tail.
  • Use a single barbless hook to limit injury during removal. Remove the hook immediately, keeping the fish in the water.
  • If the hook is caught deep in the fish, cut the line and release with hook still inside rather than trying to remove deep-caught hook.
  • When releasing the fish, support it in the water using two hands, with the head pointing upstream to aid breathing.

 The season has already started on some still-water fisheries, with fishing on the rivers beginning to open up from Monday 1 March.

For further information on season dates, licence and permit requirements in the Foyle and Carlingford areas, visit the angling section of the Loughs Agency website.

Published in Angling

The Loughs Agency is reminding anglers in the Foyle and Carlingford areas to log and submit their angling effort, catches and releases for the 2020 season.

Rod licences for salmon and sea trout in Foyle and Carlingford come with a legal obligation to inform the Loughs Agency (via the eLicence web portal) of how many times the licence holder went fishing and got many fish they caught.

To date, the agency says less fewer than 10% of anglers have made their return for the 2020 season.

For the 2020 season, the Loughs Agency will be carrying out an in-depth study of catch returns and angling effort to determine fish runs in rivers, number of fish caught, weight of fish caught and/or released, and how much time anglers put into catching those fish.

As a result, anglers are encouraged to make their return and be as accurate as possible with locations, dates, weights, species, methods and time spent fishing.

The deadline for catch returns is Thursday 21 January 2021.

Published in Angling

As of yesterday (Tuesday 19 May), permits are available for Loughs Agency permit waters on the River Foyle, River Finn (approx six miles) and Greenbraes Fishery.

DAERA has also opened, with limitations, the Public Angling Estate in Northern Ireland — which in the Foyle and Carlingford areas includes Loughbrickland, Binevenagh, Moor Lough, Lough Ash, Lough Bradan, Lough Lee and a section of the River Roe.

The Loughs Agency adds that angling clubs and private fisheries will decide how and when to open their waters.

It is for each club and fishery owner to decide if they can comply with government advice with regard to social distancing and hand hygiene.

Anglers are reminded that they also have individual responsibility to comply with UK and Irish government advice regarding social distancing, hand hygiene and travel restrictions.

The agency’s fisheries protection staff have returned to full-time duties with immediate effect and will continue to work in partnership with the PSNI and An Garda Síochána with regard to fisheries offences.

Game and coarse anglers are also reminded that to fish in the waters of Foyle and Carlingford they require a licence from Loughs Agency and a permit from whomever holds the fishing rights.

Loughs Agency licences are available online. Anglers should contact the fishery/angling club directly regarding permits that are not provided by Loughs Agency.

Published in Angling

Anglers are being encouraged by the Loughs Agency to log and submit their efforts, catches and releases for the 2019 angling season in Foyle and Carlingford.

Whenever anyone buys a rod licence to fish for salmon and sea trout in Foyle and Carlingford, they are legally obliged to let the Loughs Agency know if they have caught fish and how many times they went fishing.

This information can now be easily recorded through the loughs angling elicence website. Simply log in with your Angler Number and update your angling log for the 2019 season.

John McCartney, Lough Agency director of conservation and protection, said: “This is really important information because it enables our scientists to understand how many fish are caught, taken or returned back to the river and how much time anglers put into catching those fish.

“It provides an indication of how well stocks are doing and if we need to take any action should catches take a turn for the worst.”

Freshwater fishery biologist Mark McCauley advised that the data is used “to screen proposed developments such as roads, hydro, etc that may impact the interests of the fishery. We can also use the data anglers provide to assess the strength of fish runs in the system this year and also for long term trend monitoring.”

As reported last week on Afloat.ie, salmon and sea trout anglers in the Republic of Ireland have been reminded to return their 2019 logbooks and unused gill tags as soon as possible, even if there is no catch recorded.

Published in Angling

#Delays - The Scenic Carlingford Ferry, which was set to launch this month has stated that it is "looking like it could be another couple of weeks" before the car-ferry is ready to get underway.

In the Dundalk Gazette, the Chief Executive of the ferry operator Pamela Houston said, “We are still hoping to set sail officially in June but it is looking like it could be another couple of weeks. We are quite simply at the mercy of bespoke navigational aids and once they are delivered and installed, we can get underway.”

“We are, as you would expect, following due process in terms of the official sequence for final approvals before opening the service for passengers. All the Captains are hugely experienced and already carry the official Certificate of Competency to operate a range of vessels, hence they can be seen putting the Ferry through its paces.”

For more on the story click here.

Published in Ferry

#Swimming - Carlingford in Co Louth is the venue for the Global Swim Series European Championships on Saturday 15 October.

Ireland has already hosted 14 races in the international league for open water swimming, which included the legendary Liffey Swim and more recently the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Race.

So it should come as no surprise that Irish swimmers — and in particular swimmers from Northern Ireland — are topping the series leaderboards heading into Carlingford Lough’s first hosting of the European Championships in less than two weeks’ time.

The event also marks the point where racing moves to the Southern Hemisphere and swimmers in Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, the Philippines and the Pacific islands set their sights on the top of the table before the series concludes next April.

Published in Sea Swim
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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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