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The Irish Dragon Fleet continues to build interest as the 2024 Gold Cup in Kinsale comes closer. News that the Glandore and Kinsale fleets particularly are experiencing strong growth in numbers and standard of sailors is contained in the International Dragon Class Review for 2021 just published. 

This year saw the addition of Colm Dunne and Colm Daly in Kinsale, two established Squib sailors who showed immediate pace finishing a superb second in the Irish Nationals. Glandore Harbour continues to foster many young talents in the Dragon class with Don Street still sailing competitively at over 90 years of age!

Despite pandemic restrictions, the three major championships went ahead as planned along with two other regional events.

Little Fella (Cameron Good, Henry Kingston & Simon Fourney/ Matthias Hellstern) Little Fella (Cameron Good, Henry Kingston & Simon Fourney/ Matthias Hellstern) Photo: Bob Bateman

Results were dominated by Little Fella (Cameron Good, Henry Kingston & Simon Fourney/ Matthias Hellstern) winning three out of the five events with Phantom (Neil Hegarty, Peter Bowring & David Williams) winning the other two.

The 2021 International Dragon Class ReviewThe front cover of the  2021 International Dragon Class Review just published. Read it online via the link below

The Irish National title once again went to Phantom who has now won this prestigious regatta nine times and the last four years in a row!

Irish Dragon champions - Phantom David Williams, Peter Bowring & Neil Hegarty from the Royal St. George Yacht ClubIrish Dragon champions - Phantom David Williams, Peter Bowring & Neil Hegarty from the Royal St. George Yacht Club Photo: Bob Bateman

Irish Dragon sailors have once again begun to travel to European events. Seasoned International campaigners Martin Byrne and Team Jaguar have based themselves in Vilamoura for the winter whilst Brian Goggin & Daniel Murphy recently borrowed Michael Cotter's beautiful classic Tarasque to sail in the December winter series in Cannes.

Ireland's Dragon trio Martin Byrne, Adam Winkelmann and John Simms competed in Vilamoura In NovemberDragon trio Martin Byrne, Adam Winkelmann and John Simms

Interest is also building amongst the Irish fleet to travel to the likes of Douarnenez and Falmouth in 2022.

Kinsale’s plans for the Gold Cup 2024 are also well underway with title sponsorship already secured from yacht club member Stephen McCarthy and his company Astra Construction.

The Irish Dragon Association are planning to hold a number of feeder events for the Gold Cup to make travelling more attractive. These will include applications to the IDA for a Grand Prix event in the lead up to the Gold Cup.

Read the full Dragon Review for 2021 is online here

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The International Dragon One Design has been an important of Irish sailing since the 1930s, writes W M Nixon.

This classic boat’s good looks and excellent performance continues to provide rewarding racing for sailors of all ages worldwide.

Indeed, a recently released film, titled Setting Hearts on Fire, captures the flavour of these specie craft.

And though it costs €100 to access the complete package, this free video trailer — including an input from leading Irish and international yachting historian Hal Sisk of Dun Laoghaire — makes for evocative viewing of a great boat.

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Martin Byrne’s Jaguar Dragon Sailing Team finished in sixth place overall at the Marblehead Trophy in Vilamoura, Portugal on Saturday.

The Royal St George team comprised Byrne, Adam Winkelmann and John Simms.

The small 12 boat but very competitive fleet was topped by European Champion Jens Christensen from Denmark who launched a brand new Dragon for this event and won by six points.

Recent Gold Cup winner and Vendee Globe competitor Pieter Heerema from the Netherlands was second with the holder of the Marblehead Trophy and current European Champion Pedro Andrade from Portugal in third.

Results are here

Published in Dragon

After two days of racing at the Dragon Marblehead Trophy in Vilamoura, Portugal Martin Byrne’s Jaguar Sailing Team lie in fourth place overall.

The Royal St George sailor is crewed by Adam Winkelmann and John Simms.

A 7th & 4th on day 1 was followed up by a second place in the only race today in light breezes.

There was some drama ashore yesterday after five competitors were called OCS at the start by the Race Officer and subsequently, three skippers challenged his judgement with protests for redress. Pedro Andrade from Portugal (often a crew on Byrne’s Jaguar Team) was the only one to win his case and was subsequently reinstated in first place today to lie second overall.

Royal St George's Jaguar (blue spinnaker on left) races downwind at the Marblehead Trophy

Byrne’s result today keeps his Irish team in touch with the leaders in fourth overall with two days of racing remaining.

“We have been conservative in our approach to date but we are very happy to be, in touch with, or ahead of the elite teams on the international Dragon circuit this season all of whom have way more race time than we have had in 2021”, he told Afloat.

The small but very competitive fleet is led by former European Champion Jens Christensen from Denmark who launched a brand new Dragon for this event. He is followed by the holder of the Marblehead Trophy and current European Champion Pedro Andrade from Portugal. While the recent Gold Cup winner and Vendee Globe competitor Pieter Heerema from the Netherlands is third.

Five more races are scheduled for Friday and Saturday.

Results are here

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The Royal St George Yacht Club has endorsed former Commodore Martin Byrne’s Jaguar Sailing Team as their representative at this week's Dragon Marblehead Trophy in Vilamoura, Portugal.

A four-time winner of the Irish Dragon Championship and a former Edinburgh Cup (British Nationals) winner Byrne has been competing on the international Dragon circuit for a number of years. But Covid related restrictions has curtailed his team’s activities over the last two seasons.

Normal service has almost resumed and his Jaguar Sailing Team is located in Vilamoura, Portugal for the Dragon winter series.

This week they compete in the prestigious Marblehead Trophy where they will be one of the only Corinthian teams in a small but very hot lineup of international Dragon champions which includes the current Gold Cup and European Champions as well as multiple Olympic medalists.

It’s no surprise that Byrne’s crew includes Adam Winkelmann (RIYC) who has shared in all of the team's successes and is completed by Laser veteran and offshore helm John Simms from Royal Ulster YC.

Byrne’s told Afloat he was relieved the team successfully negotiated the crew weigh-in procedure and that their impressive form in the recent Portuguese National Championships, where they were unlucky to finish 5th, would be no indication as to the "daunting challenge" facing them this week.

More here

Published in Dragon

The annual October Freshwater Keelboat Regatta at Dromineer, (hosted by Lough Derg Yacht Club and staged last weekend) has been no stranger to hyper-strong winds in times past. But in 2021's unusually gentle Autumn, it provided two to three days of very usable sailing breezes, mostly from the southwest. And if the sun tended not to put in an appearance until late afternoon despite the high-pressure area moving over the country, a least it provided welcome brightness when it did show up for the healthy outdoor prize-giving ceremonies.

LDYC Commodore Joe Gilmartin and his team, led by Honorary Sailing Secretary Fergal Keating, welcomed a strong fleet across four keelboat classes, with John Leech serving as Race Officer for the Dragon and SB20 area, while Liam Moloney looked after the Squibs and Flying Fifteens. All classes had sufficient numbers for good racing among boats which had come from many parts of Ireland. But it was the Squibs, currently on a roll and further buoyed by the prospect of the big championship – effectively the Squib Worlds – in Kinsale next June, which were in a league of their own, with a pandemic-defying turnout of 29 boats representing most Irish centres, and including a couple of cross-channel challengers.

Regatta time at Lough Derg Yacht ClubRegatta time at Lough Derg Yacht Club

Morning promise of a good day's racing as the breeze comes whispering in – Dragons, Squibs and SB20s in Dromineer HarbourMorning promise of a good day's racing as the breeze comes whispering in – Dragons, Squibs and SB20s in Dromineer Harbour

The Squibs had the biggest fleet, and here Slipstream (102, Robert Marshall & Neil Logan, Killyleagh YC) leads from Fuggles (Sean & Paul Murphy, Kinsale YC).The Squibs had the biggest fleet, and here Slipstream (102, Robert Marshall & Neil Logan, Killyleagh YC) leads from Fuggles (Sean & Paul Murphy, Kinsale YC).

Part of the Squibs' attraction is that they're not afraid to move away from standard white hulls, and LDYC Honorary Sailing Secretary Fergal Keating's Bodacious (crewed by David Maher) has had a particularly attractive paint job.Part of the Squibs' attraction is that they're not afraid to move away from standard white hulls, and LDYC Honorary Sailing Secretary Fergal Keating's Bodacious (crewed by David Maher) has had a particularly attractive paint job.

Part of the Squib's growing success lies in their entertaining and informative Irish Squib Forum, and its recently-posted enthusiastic response to the Lough Derg event by Fiona Sugrue-Ward of the Kinsale fleet joyfully captures the flavour of the class and the place and the pace very well indeed:

Lough Derg Yacht Club was the venue for the final Regional Squib Event of 2021. A bumper turnout of 29 Squibs raced in the Freshwater event, and it is great to see such numbers on the start line. The Fleet love going to Lough Derg, and as always the Club ran a super event, both on and off the water.

With six races held over the two days, conditions on the lake were almost perfect with southwesterlies averaging 10-12 knots making racing fair across the racecourse. There were 5 different individual race winners leading to a final race where any one of eight Squib combinations could have won outright.

Racing had been really close and placings up and down the fleet were impossible totally on the spot. When the numbers were finally crunched in the Race Office, it was Quickstep from Cultra with a consistent top and finishes and one race win which danced to overall victory with the Royal North of Ireland's Gordon Patterson and Ross Nolan.

Sunshine finally breaking through – Fantome (730 Fergus O'Kelly & Ronan MacDonnell, Howth YC) chasing Granat (David Stewart & Brian Hare, Royal Irish & Royal Dee YCs)Sunshine finally breaking through – Fantome (730 Fergus O'Kelly & Ronan MacDonnell, Howth YC) chasing Granat (David Stewart & Brian Hare, Royal Irish & Royal Dee YCs)

Bookending the weekend with wins in Race 1 and 6, Kinsale's Outlaw 785 secured 2nd overall for Ian Travers and Keith O'Riordan. Local Squib Femme Fatale 24, with Lough Derg's Joe O Byrne and Vincent Delany helming, went for 3rd overall.

Other notable mentions must go to race winners Toy for the Boys, Fantome and Firecracker. The fleet were delighted to have overseas visitors in Squib 11 with Pam and Dick Batt, and a Welsh Dragon was welcomed flying over Lil Quickie with Tudor Roberts and Ieuan Williams.

A fleet of 29 is a fabulous end to the 2021 Squib season, the close racing amongst the fleet makes for great events. The Class are already planning and looking forward to next year with Regional events and of course the combined UK & Irish National Squib Championships in Kinsale.

Squib Results Here

Volante is another boat from Killyleagh on Strangford Lough – sailed by Simon Watson & "Jordy", she place eighth overall. Volante is another boat from Killyleagh on Strangford Lough – sailed by Simon Watson & "Jordy", she place eighth overall. 

The overall format for the Freshwater Keelboat Regatta is the Dragons do three days starting on the Friday while the SB20s, Flying Fifteens and Squibs do two. But whatever your programme, the social highlight is the dinner on the Saturday night, an epic event even by the legendary hospitality standards of Lough Derg Yacht Club, which has been honing its hosting skills since 1835.

LOUGH DERG BOAT WINS SB20s

While there was convivial inter-class mingling, after the past 18 months of pandemic limitations, inevitably there were close-knit celebrations within classes that had seen little enough of each other since March 2020. The festive levels were notably high in the SB20s, where John Malone of Lough Ree Yacht Club was Presiding over his last on-water event, having served as top honcho with success despite lockdown limits, with the SB20s making a special effort to take their class message wherever and whenever it was permissible and welcome.

LDYC Commodore Joe Gilmartin (right) with Andrew Deakin's winning SB20 crew which included Aoife (11) and Claire (9).LDYC Commodore Joe Gilmartin (right) with Andrew Deakin's winning SB20 crew which included Aoife (11) and Clara (9).

This has been partially in anticipation of the Worlds being in Dun Laoghaire with the Royal Irish Yacht Club in 2022. But equally, there was a determination to make the best of the here and now with commendable attention to detail, which is one race saw the President taking time out to check the mooring lines on one of the race marks, unselfishly sacrificing what would have been a good result in Race 3 in order to do so.

SB20 President John Malone taking his Presidential duties very seriously with the time-honoured inspection of race mark moorings…..SB20 President John Malone taking his Presidential duties very seriously with the time-honoured inspection of race mark moorings…..

……which is a ritual process, and done very thoroughly……which is a ritual process, and done very thoroughly

Even with that, he and his crew of Emmet Sheridan and Alex Leech got to the 7th and final race well in contention for the win against the host club's Andrew Deakin crewed by Brian & Colm McElligott after notching victory in Race 6. But as the President candidly admits, they were having such lovely sailing that they failed to do the strategic calculations on how to conduct a cunning final race, and the Deakin boat Sonic Boom – whose crew betimes included Oppie sailors Aoife (11) and Clara (9) - took the bullet and the series one point ahead of El Presidente.

SB20 Result here

Things are looking rather better for the outgoing SB20 President, nicely placed in 3040, but in the end he was second by one point. Things are looking rather better for the outgoing SB20 President, nicely placed in 3040, but in the end he was second by one point. 

CARRICKFERGUS & CONNEMARA DOMINATE FLYING FIFTEENS

The Flying Fifteens in Ireland have a fascinating development with a seriously-raced class taking hold in the heart of Connemara in the strongholds of the ancient Galway Bay traditional boats. It all started quite far back with older boats brought down by families for holiday sailing, but as our report on the Cong-Galway Race down Lough Corrib this year revealed, the far sailing waters of Connacht now include some hot newer craft of all types. The Fifteens are reflecting this, with Niall & Ronan O'Brien of FF Chonamara turning up at Dromineer with Buckfast and competing to such good effect that they took second in a fleet of ten.

Flying Fifteens on the run, Squibs on the beatFlying Fifteens on the run, Squibs on the beat

Their scoreline included a couple of firsts, but it was Belfast Lough sailors Trevor D'Arcy and Alan McClernon of Carrickfergus who were on top of their game with three first and a second and fourth to win by one point, while Alan Green and David Mulvin of the NYC in Dun Laoghaire were third after notching best results of a first and two seconds.

Flying Fifteen results here

LITTLE FELLA WINS TIE BREAK IN DRAGONS

It doesn't do to rush the final few miles down the winding road to Dromineer from Nenagh with an International Dragon in tow, for it's a boreen which might have been set up with Advanced Towing Driving Tests in mind. But at least the boats which came from Dun Laoghaire had motorway most of the way until Nenagh, whereas the hotshots from Kinsale had to contend with some of those nationally-notorious bottlenecks on the Cork-Limerick road before getting anywhere near their destination

This may have sharpened their determination to succeed once they got the fresh air of Lough Derg in their lungs, and with their elite three-day programme providing eight races, it came right down to the wire between two Kinsale boats, with Brian Goggin's Serafina and Cameron Good's Little Fella both on 17 points.

Dragons finding some sunshine on the run, with eventual overall winner Little Fella (211, Cameron Good KYC, left) making a successful break for it.Dragons finding some sunshine on the run, with eventual overall winner Little Fella (211, Cameron Good KYC, left) making a successful break for it.

However, 2021 is Little Fella's year, and she added another title by winning the tie-break, with third place going to Peter Bowring of Royal St George YC in Dun Laoghaire with Phantom.

International Dragon Results here

The season is by no means completely over on Lough Derg, but there's no doubting that this year's successful Freshwater Keelboat marks a significant changing of the pace, with a distinct change in the weather now upon us to emphasise this. It's really anybody's guess what the country has to go through during the coming winter, but down Dromineer way they're already thinking of the bright weather of next summer. For in addition to its busy home programme and of course the Freshwater Keelboat Regatta in October (date is October 15th-16th, put it in the diary now), Lough Derg Yacht Club is hosting the Fireball Worlds 2022 from August 20th to 26th.

Autumn is well upon us – evening sunlight at DromineerAutumn is well upon us – evening sunlight at Dromineer

Published in Inland Waterways

Lough Derg Yacht Club in County Tipperary will welcome one design visitors back to Dromineer for the Keelboat regatta on the weekend of 15th to 17th of October.

Four fleets are expected to the lake, with the biggest likely to be the Squibs, according to Derg's Joe O'Byrne.

The distinctive mace-colour sailed fleet expects a 30 boat entry to include Northern Ireland, England, Kinsale and Howth boats to compete against a growing local fleet.

The SB20s who recently competed on Lough Ree are moving to Derg for their final event of the year, and a fleet of 18 is expected in the last event of 2021 before staging the world championships in Ireland on Dublin Bay in 2022.

LDYC PRO John Leech - two race areas for the keelboat regattaLDYC PRO John Leech - two race areas for the keelboat regatta

Lough Derg Yacht Club says it expects the Flying Fifteens will also be travelling, and estimates from the Dun Laoghaire fleet say up to a dozen will attend.

Up to a dozen Flying Fifteens are expected on Lough DergUp to a dozen Flying Fifteens are expected on Lough Derg

The Dragons will have competitors from Kinsale and Dublin.

The club has arranged a lift in/lift-out on-site, and, O'Byrne says, this will significantly assist the logistics for competitors.

LDYC PRO John Leech and his team have split the four fleets over two separate race areas.

Published in Inland Waterways

Dublin-Belfast Dragon keelboat trio of Martin Byrne, Adam Winkelmann and John Simms sailing Jaguar at the Portuguese National Championship 2021 were in first place in the final race of the championships when the wind died on Sunday.

It took several attempts to get the race started due to a very shifty and patchy sea breeze and when it got underway, the wind continued to play tricks.

Jaguar was in first place at weather mark but both Jaguar and the regatta leader were then left parked at the leeward gate and the backmarkers were able to take right-hand buoy and stay in the fickle breeze on the final beat to finish. Jaguar and regatta lead boat was scored 'DNF' as they failed to escape the hole at the port buoy.

The event was effectively turned on its head in one race that was unsuccessfully protested by the regatta leader who in turn lost first place in the 11-boat fleet. 

"Great sailing albeit in challenging conditions for competitors and race management", according to the Irish crew. 

The Dublin Bay entry dropped to fifth overall. Results are here

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It was a tough second day for Dublin-Belfast Dragon keelboat trio of Martin Byrne, Adam Winkelmann and John Simms sailing Jaguar at the Portuguese National Championship 2021 after four races sailed. 

The Dublin Bay entry has dropped to third overall with quite a points gap to second place overall now developed.

Conditions were far shiftier today than in the opening races for the 11-boat fleet. 

Overall leaders (with two wins and two seconds) at Villamoura are Pedro Mendes Leal, Jorge Ferlov and Pedro Rebelo de Andrade of Cascais. 

Three races are scheduled tomorrow. Results are here

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A Dublin-Belfast Dragon keelboat trio of Martin Byrne, Adam Winkelmann and John Simms sailing Jaguar are lying second overall at the Portuguese National Championship 2021 after two races sailed. 

The Dublin Bay entry broke a spinnaker pole in race one but still finished second. They led the second race until the last leg where they were caught out by a right shift at the top end of the beat.

Conditions have been excellent so far in wind and sunshine for the opening races of the 11-boat fleet. 

Overall leaders (with two wins) at Villamoura are Pedro Mendes Leal, Jorge Ferlov and Pedro Rebelo de Andrade of Cascais. 

Racing continues. Results are here

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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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