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Displaying items by tag: Coastal Notes

#CoastalNotes - Climate change has increased the risk of extreme weather on Ireland's West Coast by 25% according to new research.

As RTÉ News reports, the mathematical models calculated by Oxford professor Myles Allen are the first to draw a direct link between human-induced affects on climate and weather patterns in this specific region.

And Prof Allen's "clear cut" conclusion is that an extreme storm system should now be expected every 80 years, as opposed to the previous estimates of every 100 years or so.

He suggests his findings should serve as a warning to people in vulnerable coastal communities, many of which were badly affected by last year's succession of winter storms.

The mathematician called on the power of many thousands of home computers, whose users volunteered in a project akin to the [email protected] project to find life in outer space.

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Weather
Tagged under

#IslandNews - A glass-floored viewing platform jutting out over the Atlantic Ocean on Achill Island has got officials excited about its potential to attract tourism.

But locals are concerned that the project could mar the area's special views with an eyesore.

As the Mayo News reported last month, funding has been secured to develop the so-called 'Signature Discovery Point' at Keem Beach on Ireland's largest coastal island.

Keem Beach is one of 35 locations along the Wild Atlantic Way in Co Mayo that will share in the €257 million funding pot.

And the ambitious plans for the area – that also features as part of the new Galway-Mayo Blueway – include a viewing platform over the waves and rocky shore near the old coastguard station, along the lines of the Grand Canyon Skywalk.

But the reaction among the Achill community has been mixed, with support for the initiative by development company Comhlacht Forbartha Áitiúil Acla tempered by comments from local sculptor Ronan Halpin, who expressed concerns over the "visual intrusion" and "sustainability" of such a unique engineering project.

“Keem Bay is one the most beautiful and unspoilt places in our country. Its isolation and seclusion are a major part of its inherent charm," he added. "The proposal to build a glass walkway at the top of Moiteóg would seem to fly in the face of all this natural beauty and majesty."

The Mayo News has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Island News

#CoastalNotes - Coastal spots and waterways feature heavily in HeraldScotland's list of the most picturesque destinations to visit in Ireland.

Some of these will be well known to locals and tourists alike, such as the wonders of Antrim's coast and glens (not least the Giant's Causeway and the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge), the majestic Ring of Kerry and the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher.

But some perhaps lesser-known spots getting their due here include the Cavan lake country – with one to explore by kayak for every day of the year – and the Cooley Peninsula in Co Louth.

HeraldScotland has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#SpanishArmada - More wreckage from Spanish galleons shipwrecked off the northwest coast more than 400 years ago has been washed up on a Sligo beach.

And according to The Irish Times, it's possible that this weekend's low tides could expose even more remnants from the three vessels - sparking concerns for the integrity of the wreck sites, which lie in 15 metres of water some 60 metres from the low tide mark.

Donal Gilroy from the Grange and Armada Development Association (GADA) said the wooden objects found on the beach this week had "been buried off Streedagh for nearly 430 years. It is lucky they were not carried out by the tide.”

The find comes just months after a near fully intact rudder, believed to be from one of the 1588 fleet, was discovered at Streedagh beach by a local farmer.

“This is a protected site but we worry that these boats are being moved by storms," added Gilroy. "They have thrown up more in the last two years than in the previous 40."

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#Beaches - And the title of Ireland's best beach goes to... Inchydoney in West Cork, as TheJournal.ie reports.

This marks the second year in a row that the Clonakilty strand took the top spot in TripAdvisor's annual ranking of Ireland's beaches, as chosen by visitors and tourists giving their ratings on the site.

It couldn't come at a better time for Inchydoney, as next month signals the start of the best period of the year to make the most of its peaceful atmosphere.

Elsewhere on the top ten list, Kerry places the most with four beaches making the grade - including Derrynane and Inch at numbers two and three respectively.

But the east coast also gets a look-in, with Curracloe in Wexford placing sixth, and Portmarnock in North Co Dublin rounding out the list at number 10.

TheJournal.ie has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#WhiddyOilTerminal – Bantry Bay Oil Terminal has been acquired by Houston, Texas based Zenith Energy, an international liquids and bulk terminal company from Phillips 66.

The terminal has a storage capacity of more than 8 million million barrels holding a third of Ireland's strategic petroleum reserves. Zenith intends to continue operating the terminal on a commercial basis. 

For more the West Cork Times reports HERE. 

Phillips 66 continues to operate Whitegate Oil Refinery in Cork Harbour, the only such facility in Ireland. As previously reported on Afloat.ie the refinery at Whitegate was withdrawn from sale last year following attempts to find a buyer failed.

Mike King of Phillips 66 was among the speakers of the major energy conference "Cork Harbour – Energising the Region" held in December.

To read his presentation and others click HERE on topics that discussed the opportunities and challenges in terms of energy, industry and tourism for the harbour.

Published in Coastal Notes

#UKNavalTanker - RFA Wave Knight (A389) a 31,500dwt tanker which supplies the Royal Navy was some 20 nautical miles offshore of Greystones Harbour during a mid-week northbound passage in the Irish Sea, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The 10,000nm range Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) vessel with a crew of 72, is the leadship of the 'Wave Knight' class of Fast Fleet Tankers that had departed Plymouth.

The vessel has not called to any Irish Port but is currently deployed on operation 'Atlantic Patrol Tasking North'.

She is also used to serve global operations, where the RFA Wave Knight provides fuel, food, fresh water, ammunition and other supplies in addition to support amphibious forces, anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare operations.

To carry out refuelling, RAS (Replenishment at sea) this is carried out through a hose-pipe rig, to a vessel either to port or starboard and also can be conducted astern.

Another role of the 196m vessel is to carry out helicopter missions on humanitarian relief events and also weapons systems operations. This requires 26 Royal Navy personnel for helicopter operations, noting the stern-landing deck and hanger as pictured HERE of the vessel.

Launched in 2000 at VSEL, Barrow-On-Furness, the Cumbrian port on the Irish Sea switched ownership during Wave Knight's fit-out. So by the time the 16,900 tonnes fuel capacity tanker was accepted into RFA service in 2003 this was then during control of BAE Systems Marine.

She is the second ship to bear this name in RFA service and her sister RFA Wave Ruler (A390) was also named after a previous oiler replenishment tanker. As previously reported, RFA Gold Rover (A271) another RAS tanker made a visit to Dublin Port last year.

Also reported was this week's visit of the French Navy's BCR Somme (A 631) to Dublin Port. The auxiliary oil replenishment tanker (AOR) again another term for this type of naval support vessel is seen carrying out a RAS operation as captured by clicking this VIDEO link.

It was during the four-day visit that the French Ambassador to Ireland presented the Legion d'Honneur to Michael 'Mickey' d'Alton's contribution to the success of D-Day in 1944.

For much more about one of the last Irish survivors of this critical event during WW2, Afloat's W. M. Nixon reflects on some very special stories of this senior Dun Laoghaire sailor.

Following the ceremony, the Somme departed Dublin Port last Tuesday morning.

The Brest-based ship which is home-ported in the Breton naval base to carry out her area of operations in the Atlantic, was instead understood to be bound for another base in Toulon on the Mediterranean.

Published in Coastal Notes

#Coastal - Ireland's coastal islands offer some astounding vistas, as this breathtaking video from the Smithsonian Channel shows perfectly.

The clip from the American TV channel's Sky View series sweeps high above the Aran Islands to highlight the rugged beauty of the west coast, from the skeletal shipwrecks to the rocky shores to the veins of stone walls across the green landscape.

It's easy to see why the Wild Atlantic Way is such a draw for tourists, but let's not ignore the bounty of the east coast either, as the Irish Independent highlights the New York Times' celebration of Dublin Bay's world-class views for "little more than the cost of a pint".

Cited as "one of the most beautiful views in the world" in that tribute is the vista as seen from Howth Head, from where one has a perfect 'eye-catching' view of the enthralling Ireland's Eye.

The tiny island, with its prominent Martello tower, is less than a mile from the North Dublin fishing village, and doesn't even seem that far from the end of the pier.

But as Conor Pope reports in The Irish Times, it "may as well be on a different planet", describing a place full of mystery, history – and even murder.

Meanwhile, off the southwest coast there's another tiny rock with its own storied past that's about to take on a whole new relevance to fans of the Star Wars saga.

BBC News reports on Skellig Michael, the island "that links Irish monks and Jedi knights" after filming took place last year for the hotly anticipated movie The Force Unleashed.

The island is already a popular spot for visitors, but could soon welcome many more – with lightsabers in tow!

Published in Coastal Notes

#WaveRecord - The M3 weather buoy has measured the second highest wave ever recorded off the West Cork coast, according to The Skipper.

The buoy measured an individual wave of 16.9 metres at 10am last Thursday 15 January in the midst of Storm Rachel, a little over two metres shy of the 19.1m wave recorded on 27 January 2013.

The Coast of West Cork

The stormy conditions have seen consistent but unusually high seas this month so far, with the M3 buoy - which was swept away to Devon in storms two years ago – recording an average Significant Wave Height of over six metres.

Meanwhile, in the Irish Sea the M2 buoy recorded an individual wave of 8.7m at 10pm on 14 January, just 18cm below the record set on 27 December 2013.

Published in Coastal Notes

#CoastalNotes - Irish school pupils will benefit from the publication of new maps and guides to the country's onshore and offshore geology in the Irish language.

Derek Evans writes in The Irish Times on the recent launch of An Geolaíocht ó bhun go barr at Letterkenny's Coláiste Ailigh, in conjunction with translated editions of the Bedrock Geological Map of Ireland and the Real Map of Ireland - the latter of which is an important resource for studying the seabed around the Irish coast.

Published by the Sherkin Island Marine Station, An Geolaíocht ó bhun go barr is an accessible study guide to the basic geological and geographical processes relevant to Ireland, and is particularly useful for post-primary schools both within Gaeltacht areas and nationwide. 

But it also has value to adults who can learn about the natural history of Ireland and improve their Irish at the same time.

The launch is part of commitments made under the Department of Gaeltacht Affairs’ Irish Language Scheme to translate and publish a wide range of literature from the Geological Survey of Ireland.

Published in Coastal Notes
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Page 9 of 24

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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