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The road to 2012 glory has just got one step closer for some of the nation's top sailors who today became the first British athletes to be officially selected to compete for Team GB at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Ben Ainslie, the triple Olympic gold and silver medallist and Britain's most successful Olympic sailor, heads the list of 11 athletes confirmed by the British Olympic Association as being on the startline at Weymouth and Portland for next year's sailing events.

Sailing is the first of the 26 Olympic sports to have officially selected any of its athletes, with the 11 sailors revealed today at the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, competing across seven of the ten Olympic classes and representing a mix of both established Olympic medallists and first-time Olympians.

TeamGBR_M1249

Picture shows L-R Skandia Team GBR sailors Stephen Park (Olympic Team Manager, Kate Macgregor (Womens Match Racing), Hannah Mills (470), Lucy Macgregor (Womens Match Racing), Bryony Shaw (RSX), Ben Ainslie (Finn), Nick Dempsey (RSX), Andrew Simpson (Star), Iain Percy (Star) Annie Lush (Womens Match Racing) and Saskia Clark (470).

Ainslie, 34, has earned the right to race for his fourth Olympic gold in 2012, gaining selection in the heavyweight Finn dinghy event, while Iain Percy will aim for a third gold in total and a second in partnership with best friend Andrew Simpson in the Star class with whom he won the Olympic title in Beijing.

Paul Goodison will look to defend his Laser class crown on his home waters of Weymouth and Portland, while Nick Dempsey and Bryony Shaw will look to build on their respective Olympic bronze medals in the RS:X Men's and Women's windsurfing events (Dempsey, Athens 2004; Shaw, Beijing 2008).

The 2010 World Championship-winning trio of Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor have earned the nod to race at their first Olympic Games in the Elliot 6m Women's Match Racing event – a new event on the 2012 programme – with Lucy and Kate the first two sailing sisters ever to compete for Great Britain at the Olympics.

A whirlwind seven months after teaming up and following a string of podium finishes, Olympic debutant Hannah Mills and Beijing Olympian Saskia Clark have earned the confidence of the Royal Yachting Association selectors in the 470 Women's event. Mills joined forces with Clark in February 2011 following the retirement of Clark's former helm Sarah Ayton.

Selection trials are ongoing in the remaining three Olympic classes – the 470 Men, the 49er and the Laser Radial events. Team GB Chef de Mission Andy Hunt commented:
"This announcement is a key milestone and an exciting and important moment for us - it represents the beginning of the creation of Team GB, Our Greatest Team of approximately 550 athletes. Having the first athletes confirmed for Team GB for the London 2012 Olympic Games is fantastic. The eleven sailors are a good mix of experience, including six Olympic medallists, as well as promising Olympic debutants who are World or European medallists in their own right.

"There is certainly some fierce competition within sailing and there are no free passes to compete for Team GB in any sport in London 2012. In fact, in terms of overall depth and talent, we believe Team GB in London 2012 will be the most competitive British Olympic Team in modern history. Our aspiration for Team GB in London 2012 is to win more medals across more sports than for
over a century."

RYA Olympic Manager/Team GB Sailing Team Leader Stephen Park added (from Helensburgh, Scotland): "We're delighted to be announcing the first sailing members of Team GB. All the sailors selected today have had a fantastic year of performances which has resulted in them gaining selection at an early opportunity, allowing them good time to focus their campaigns specifically on the challenges of Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour in preparation for the 2012 Games.

"The mix of experience we have with the six Olympic medallists, one Olympian and four first-time Olympians provides an exciting balance that will hopefully deliver the required results in 2012 while at the same time increasing the pool of 2016 Olympic triallists."

Ben Ainslie said (born: Macclesfield; grew up in: Restronguet, Cornwall; currently living in: Lymington): "It's an honour to be selected to compete for Team GB at the 2012 Olympics.
This qualification process was definitely the hardest compared to the previous four I've been through. The previous experiences helped, but at the same time having the Olympics in the UK puts that added bit of pressure on, we all want to compete on home waters, it's a once in a lifetime opportunity.

"The competition was strong, having four top British sailors (Giles Scott, Ed Wright, Andrew Mills and Mark Andrews) battling for qualification meant I had to be at my best in every race. Certainly that is a credit to those guys, how well they were sailing and how they pressured me all the way in every event. At the same time pressure has always brought the best out of me and the competition with the British sailors gave me that added edge in competition. It's now all about getting the plans right for my fitness and preparation to peak at the right time, you don't want to reach burnout and
the Olympics are the end goal!"

Paul Goodison commented (born/grew up in: Sheffield; currently living in: Weymouth, Dorset): "It feels really good to have been selected early for the 2012 Games – I know it's still 10 months away but for me it's really important that selection's out of the way so I can start to focus on what I need to do to put myself in the right position to deliver in 10 month's time.

"This will be my third Olympic Games – it's going to be very different to the last two but with a home Olympics I'm sure it's going to be an advantage to be on home waters with a home crowd. We spent a lot of time training out there in Weymouth and hopefully this will pay dividends next year.

"Winning the Games in China was just an amazing experience for me – from the lows of finishing fourth in Athens to then winning the gold medal in China was fantastic. I can only imagine what it would be like to repeat this feat again in Weymouth with my family and friends there on British waters – it would be an amazing experience so I'm looking forward to 2012."

Bryony Shaw said (born: Wandsworth, grew up in: Oxford; currently living in: Tunbridge Wells): "For me this will be my second Olympics, and it's exciting that I've been able to keep on improving. It's amazing to be part of such a strong and special team and to feel the vibe that we're all focussed and confident with the task ahead.

"To earn my selection by winning medals in Weymouth was the main focus for me and it's given me great confidence to have been able to do that, and gives me a great feeling that I can perform there. My windsurfing has transformed, everything is on track and we're pretty confident that there are some more gains to be made on the physiological side."

Nick Dempsey added (born/grew up in: Norwich, Norfolk; currently living in: Weymouth, Dorset): "It's great to have gained selection, but really it's just another step on the way. You still get the feeling that it's the start of the build-up, and little things like starting to get your bits of Olympic kit are quite exciting and bring home how close it's getting.

"This is my fourth Olympics, and this one is just everything to me. It's the one – the Games that I've been waiting for my whole life. You're never going to get better than winning an Olympic medal on home waters. I've performed really well in Weymouth this year but there are still some big gains to be made, so everything for me is about preparing for Weymouth and
fine-tuning everything – learning more, getting fitter, stronger and faster."

Lucy Macgregor said (born/grew up in/currently living in: Poole, Dorset): "It's pretty exciting, and it's great to be part of such a strong team. Gaining selection feels like the next step on the road, and the start of more hard work ahead of us. None of the three of us has any Olympic experience, so we don't entirely know what to expect, but we're confident in the plans we have in place and we can learn from the other members of the team and from our coach Maurice on that side of things.

"We have some more training time ahead of us in Weymouth this year, but the next big competition for us is the World Championships. For the other nations it will be vital for country qualification so the competition will certainly be tough, and will give us the chance to race against the best teams and see what else we need to work on."

Kate Macgregor added (born/grew up in/currently living in: Poole, Dorset): "It's really exciting to be selected – it didn't hit me for a few hours after I'd heard as we were off sailing, but it's really exciting and makes everything that little bit more real now!

It's our first Olympics, but being part of such a great team and having all these people around us with Olympic experience that we look up to means that it won't be such a scary thought.

A medal is our ultimate goal and we have the potential to achieve that – we've just got to keep working hard over the winter and throughout next year and hopefully will things will continue to fall into place for us."

Annie Lush said (born/grew up in/currently living in: Poole, Dorset): "It took a while for the news to sink in! Even though we haven't had a clear competitor in our trials, I have been trying for eight years to make it to the Games so to have that finally confirmed is an exciting moment.

"There's a lot of work still to do – the goal is not just to go, but to go and win a medal, and gaining selection makes you realise how close it all is. It's our first Olympics, so the key will be trying to predict what those unique challenges of the Games will be and preparing for them. We'll be trying to learn from the others within the team, and our coach as well, who already have that experience, and the Test Event was a real learning experience for us in that regard.

"It would be a massive, massive achievement to win a medal next year and an amazing marker of the best part of a decade of hard work that went into it."

Iain Percy commented (born/grew up in: Winchester, Hampshire; currently living in: Emsworth, Hampshire): "That's the first hurdle over, but really ever since Beijing we've been focussing on 29 July 2012 and all the hard work over the past few years has been to make sure we're in the best possible shape come that day.

"I'm really proud to be representing Team GB at my fourth Olympics. It's every athlete's dream to win an Olympic medal at home – it's a once in a lifetime opportunity, so we'll be giving it our all to be up there on the podium again next year."

Andrew Simpson added (born/grew up in: Chertsey, Surrey; currently living in: Sherborne, Dorset): "It's a real privilege and a special moment to be selected for the London 2012 Games, but selection alone is not enough – it's just a means to an end. We want to be there on the startline in 2012 with a real shot at retaining our gold, so everything we've been working on since Beijing 2008 has been geared to towards optimising our racing, our equipment and ourselves towards the challenges we expect from Weymouth as a venue."

Hannah Mills said (born/grew up in: Cardiff; currently living in: Portland, Dorset): "I didn't believe it when I first heard the news – although we'd had a great few months and some fantastic results since teaming up, I'd built it up in my mind that our trials would be carrying on so it came as a big surprise.

"Things were all looking a bit different for the both of us seven months ago, so to be given this chance is really, really exciting, but really it's just a stepping stone on the way with lots of hard work still ahead of us.

The Test Event was a great eye-opener in terms of how things might be at the Games. We've been given this massive task and now we just need to sort out all our plans so we're in the best place to achieve it."

Saskia Clark added (born/grew up in: Colchester, Essex; currently living in: Weymouth, Dorset): "I'm so pleased and relieved! We've had some really good results since teaming up but didn't know if it was enough. I'm so pleased for Hannah as this will be her first Olympics and we've had a good start to our campaign with much more, we feel, still to come.

"It was a dark time for me back in February [when Sarah Ayton retired] but Hannah and I gave it everything in the time we've had. When we teamed up we knew we didn't have a lot of time, and our aim was to do enough to try and push the trials on to Perth or further. We surpassed our expectations winning medals in all but one event we've done together, but there's a huge amount of hard work still to do and I know that a lot of the other girls will come back stronger next year."

Sailing's 2012 legacy is already in action, proven by a number of youth attending the team announcement. These youngsters are part of the RYA's OnBoard (OB) programme to introduce sailing and windsurfing as a sport for young people. The children are all year 6 pupils from the Jubilee Primary School, located in the London Borough of Hackney, which is one of the five London Olympic Boroughs. Over ten years, OB is working to introduce half a million children into sailing and windsurfing. Jubilee Primary School attends regular sessions at the North London RYA OnBoard Centre based at Stoke Newington Reservoir Centre and has exchange visits to the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic sailing venue.

Published in Olympics 2012

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.

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