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Displaying items by tag: Charity

An intrepid duo intend to cross the Irish Sea from Wales to Wicklow this weekend in an unusual fashion — paddling on their bellies.

Damien Wildes and Charlie Fleetwood will assume the prone position on their stand-up paddleboards from Holyhead in the early hours of this Saturday 9 July for the crossing to Greystones, which they expect to take somewhere between 14 and 20 hours.

Each will be assisted by their own volunteer-operated support boat for the endurance feat in which they hope to raise at least €15,000 for three local charities: Purple House Cancer Support, Wicklow SPCA and Wicklow RNLI.

“Completing the prone crossing will be a world’s first,” Damien told Greystones Guide, “and I know not many people have actually made it across by SUP, so Charlie will make it onto a very short and very illustrious list.”

The pair’s iDonate page has more on their plans HERE.

Published in Offshore

After 55 days at sea, the St Michael’s Rowing Club duo of Kevin O’Farrell and Rob Collins completed their epic journey across the Atlantic earlier this week.

Setting off from southern Portugal in early April in a small craft as part of a four-man crew, alongside Dutch rowers Ralph Tujin and Somon van de Hoek, the Irish pair battled rough seas, technical hitches and physical injuries to arrive in French Guiana 55 days later.

Using just their own strength and the ocean currents, the crew worked in two-hour shifts, day and night, for nearly two months. They had to hunker down in a tiny cabin off the coast of Portugal when they hit a storm with sea swells the size of a house. Then, they were nearly run over by a tanker off the coast of the Canary Islands.

Hard luck hit when they realised they had to repair their boat in the Cape Verde islands as their navigation equipment broke. An unexpected challenge was to battle a four-hour onslaught from a shoal of flying fish in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

Rob Collins (left) and Kevin O’Farrell at sea in their four-person ocean rowing boatRob Collins (left) and Kevin O’Farrell at sea in their four-person ocean rowing boat

But it was all worth it as on Monday (30 May), they rowed up the Kourou River to reach their final destination, the small town of Kourou in French Guiana, where they were greeted with fireworks and a few well-deserved beers.

A very warm welcome awaits the ‘Salty Pair’ of Robert and Kevin back in Dun Laoghaire, where fellow St Michael’s members will gather round a pint of choice to hear their stories and be inspired by their adventures.

Robert and Kevin rowed across the Atlantic in aid of Muscular Dystrophy Ireland - inspired by Fionn, who lives with Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy.

A voluntary organisation, Muscular Dystrophy Ireland supports kids like Fionn and their families by providing a wide range of respite and support services all year-round, advocating for their community and educating society about neuromuscular conditions and supporting researchers and clinicians to carry out quality research into neuromuscular conditions.

Donations to Robert and Kevin’s fundraising effort can still be made via iDonate HERE.

Published in Coastal Rowing

Two members of St Michael’s Rowing Club in Dun Laoghaire are preparing to row across the Atlantic for a special cause — and faster than anyone has before.

Robert Collins and Kevin O’Farrell are aiming to break the world record for the fastest row from mainland Europe to mainland South America in aid of Muscular Dystrophy Ireland — inspired by the son of a family friend who was diagnosed with Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy.

Starting in Portugal this Friday 1 April, they will be rowing as part of a five-person crew, non-stop for at least 48 days across the Atlantic to French Guiana in South America — spending every day together in a small boat, battling the weather and the ocean.

They will be rowing 12 hours each day, two hours on, two hours off. Their crew will be unsupported, carrying all equipment and food necessary to sustain them on their expedition.

The so-called ‘Salty Pair’ has previously trained for the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge despite no prior experience in rowing, but were forced to withdraw due to the “challenges we faced in preparing for the race during a global pandemic”.

The five-person crew in training for ‘Kev and Rob’s Atlantic Row’The five-person crew in training for ‘Kev and Rob’s Atlantic Row’

Robert and Kevin said of their latest attempt: “We’re raising funds for a charity close to our hearts. Fionn, the son of a family friend, was diagnosed with Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy at the age of three. It is a muscle-wasting disease with a poor prognosis.

“Inspired by Fionn’s story, we will be raising funds for Muscular Dystrophy Ireland, who have given Fionn, his family and other afflicted families incredible support through the toughest times a parent can imagine.”

A voluntary organisation, Muscular Dystrophy Ireland supports kids like Fionn and their families by providing a wide range of respite and support services all year round, advocating for their community and educating society about neuromuscular conditions and supporting researchers and clinicians to carry out quality research into neuromuscular conditions.

To support Kev and Rob’s Atlantic Row, donate via the iDonate website HERE. All money raised will go to their chosen charity, with the rowers bearing all costs linked to the row itself.

Published in Rowing

A Donegal octogenarian has completed his marathon effort to swim at as many spots around the Irish coast as possible — raising more than €100,000 for charity in the process.

As the Sunday World reports, Paddy Conaghan skipped Christmas and even his own 81st birthday bash to round the island of Ireland in his van for the ‘Ducking & Driving Around Ireland’.

Paddy set out at the start of December, working his way anti-clockwise from his home on Arranmore, as previously noted on Afloat.ie.

Despite some hiccups along the way — including a change of van after an unfortunate breakdown in Kerry — he returned home to a hero’s welcome yesterday (Saturday 12 February) having raised a six-figure sum for local counselling service Gemma's Legacy of Hope.

The Sunday World has more on the story HERE.

Published in Sea Swim
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Six sea swimmers from Ireland have succeeded in their attempt to cross the North Channel in winter — setting a new record in the process.

According to RTÉ News, the members of the Walrus Swim Team completed the 35km relay swim from Donaghadee in Northern Ireland to Portpatrick in Scotland in just under 13 hours on Friday (14 January).

And what makes their achievement even more remarkable is that the sextet — who met while swimming at the Forty Foot in Dublin — took to the chilling waters of the North Channel without the protection of wetsuits.

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Sea Swim

A team of six sea swimmers aim to make history later this week with the first crossing of the North Channel from Ireland to Scotland in winter.

As RTÉ News reports, the Walrus Swim Team comprises regulars at the Forty Foot in south Dublin who met during the pandemic as indoor pools were closed.

This Friday 14 January, the six — Dave Berry, Declan Bradshaw, Vincent Donegan, Ger Kennedy, Niamh McCarthy and Colm Morris — will take to the water at Donaghadee in Northern Ireland for the 35km relay swim to Portpatrick in aid of the the Gavin Glynn Foundation, which supports families fighting childhood cancer.

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Sea Swim
Tagged under

An intrepid pair of kayakers are now five days into their 10-day adventure paddling the length of the River Shannon from source to sea.

Eoin Connolly and Ronan McDonnell skipped the usual festive fare as they set out on Christmas Eve in their two-person kayak to tackle the epic 360km route.

And it’s all for a good cause, specifically the Rafiki Network which assists young mothers in Zimbabwe by providing them with support for mental health and income generation.

Follow Eoin and Ronan’s progress on their Instagram page as they aim to complete the challenge in the coming days.

Published in Kayaking
Tagged under

A Donegal octogenarian has set himself the mammoth task of going for an open water swim at as many Irish beaches and piers as possible.

As RTÉ News reports, Paddy Conaghan is living out of a van for the duration of his ‘Ducking & Driving Around Ireland’ charity challenge, which he began at the start of this month.

The 80-year-old from Arranmore is working his way anti-clockwise around the coast of Ireland and most recently has been enjoying the hospitality of Co Kerry’s coastal communities.

What’s more, he’s already raised nearly €50,000 for local counselling service Gemma's Legacy of Hope — and hopes to raise much more before the expected completion of his lap around the island in February.

Follow’s Paddy’s adventures on his Facebook page HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes
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After seven weeks and 500km of open water, ‘Marathon Man’ Alan Corcoran completed his epic swimming challenge from the Causeway Coast to Tramore on Monday morning, 22 July.

Sadly Alan wasn’t able to join supporters in the mass public swim organised to greet his arrival on Sunday, due to poor weather conditions that delated his approach along the Waterford coast.

But with some of those closet to him by his side, he wasted no time early on Monday by taking the first break in the weather at the crack of dawn to swim the final stretch from Ballymacaw to Tramore Strand.

“Four final hours of swimming and I can now proudly say, mission complete,” he wrote on his Facebook page where he’s been charing his adventure.

And Alan is still accepting donations for his chosen charities the Irish Heart Foundation and Solas Cancer Support Centre. See MarathonMan.co for more details.

Published in Sea Swim
Tagged under

Close to 130 hardy souls will take to the waters of Galway Bay tomorrow (Saturday 20 July) for the 14th annual Frances Thornton Memorial Galway Bay Swim.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the early sell-out event is one of Ireland’s biggest and longest one-day swims — comprising a 13km course between Aughinish in Co Clare and the Blackrock diving tower in Salthill, just west of Galway city centre.

This year’s swimmers will be hoping to beat last year’s fundraising total of over €100,000 for Cancer Care West.

And among them is Christina Hyland, who writes for the Galway Advertiser about her preparations for the open water swim.

Elsewhere, a charity swim of a different kind is being planned for Belfast Lough next Friday (26 July).

As the Carrick Times reports, a local councillor and five fellow swimmers will take on the challenge of crossing shipping lanes between Grey Point at Helen’s Bay and Carrickfergus Castle — a distance of nearly four nautical miles, or 7km.

Published in Sea Swim
Tagged under
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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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