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Despite only four boats in each class making it to the start line, the small fleets enjoyed very close racing in 12-20 knots on Saturday and only 3 – 8 knots on Sunday.

Nigel Biggs’ Half Tonner Checkmate sealed the deal on Saturday with three wins when Mata was forced to retire with a bust guard rail and a few swimmers (all collected safely) in the last race.

ICRA overall champion Dux led the X302s on Saturday evening with a two-point lead but Sunday’s very light airs meant they took the prize by just one point overall from Paddy Kyne’s Maximus.

The “normal” Half Ton Cup has a separate trophy for the offshore race and whilst Sunday felt like an offshore in such light airs, the day was won by King One.

The runaway success for the weekend was the initiative for every boat to take an under 18 junior which introduced a number of youngsters into yacht racing, all of whom reported enjoying it immensely.

Published in Howth YC
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July's Half Ton Classics Cup due to be held a week before Cowes Week – at the same venue – has been cancelled.

The news will be disappointing but not unexpected in this COVID-19 hit season among the burgeoning Dublin fleet based largely at Howth.

Up to five Half Tonners have created a lively scene at Howth Yacht Club over the past few seasons with Dave Cullen's Checkmate XV, the Wright's Mata, Johnny Swan's Harmony, Dave Kelly's King One and Nigel Biggs Checkmate XVIII all very competitive campaigns. The Irish fleet is boosted by Cork Harbour's Miss Whiplash (Ronan Downing).

With no UK tour, the plan now is for the Irish Half Tonner fleet to focus instead on local regatta circuits as soon as all restrictive measures are lifted. Dave Cullen is planning to unite the local fleet for Howth's Wave Regatta this September that includes the ICRA National Championships.

In Belgium, the locaiton of another strong fleet, the Half Tonner calendar will concentrate around some local regattas in Nieuwpoort and the mid-September event in Ostend.

The next Half Ton Classics Cup will be in 2021 again at Cowes from 19-23 July.

Published in Half Tonners
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In the hotly contested Division 2 (A) of Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, Michael and Darren Wright continue their strong form on the Dublin Bay Race track by leading the 20-boat fleet in their Andrieu Half Tonner, Mata. The Class Two ICRA National Champions, who were crowned on the same race track a month ago and Irish Half Ton Cup winners in Kinsale a fortnight ago, are one of five tricked-up Half Tonners from Howth Yacht Club contesting the division.

Sovereign's Cup Class Two winner, Nigel Biggs is second in the customised Half Tonner Checkmate XVIII and third is the Royal Cork modified 1720 sportsboat skippered by Anthony O'Leary.

In what is perhaps a sign of what is to come over the weekend, Howth Yacht Club and Royal Cork Yacht Club entries control the top seven overall after the single race sailed on Thursday. 

Fergal Noonan's Corby 25 Impetuous is fifth with a new J97 campaign, The 'Jeneral Lee' (Colin and Kathy Kavanagh) in sixth.

Published in Volvo Regatta

With the difficulty in towing in Italy for wide loads and the fact that there is no Half Ton Cup this year in Europe, Dave Cullen chartered the legendary Farr 1977 Half Tonner “Gunboat Rangiri” for the Italian Half Ton Cup in Fiumicino last week. Its owner Claudio Massucci has taken great pride and effort to keep the boat original and it still had runners and a centreboard.

There was a modest fleet of ten boats, most of whom were largely original but David’s normal competitor, Superhero came from Belgium via Marseille and Corsica. Superhero, formerly from Howth, has since been modified and is now a “modern” half tonner so was the expected winner being only one of its type at the regatta.

With no time for practice, day one was blown out. Day two provided a great day of c.12 knots with bumpy seas and blazing sunshine. Gunboat was hit by a boat on port taking out their lifelines but scores of 3,2 & 1 put Gunboat Rangiri on the top of the overnight leader board. Saturday was a non-discardable long coastal race which was won by Superhero with Gunboat Rangiri third reversing the overnight leader board. They even managed to be hit by a Laser on port on the coastal race so it seemed they were a magnet to boats on port.

To take the Cup, the Checkmate crew needed a win in Sunday’s short coastal race with Superhero third. In winds starting at 2 knots and finishing in 16, it looked like Gunboat Rangiri had pulled it off and were congratulated by Superhero. As the crews packed up their boats, one of the lowest rating backmarkers “Prydwen” came in way afterwards to win the coastal race and blow Gunboat’s victory. It was somewhat ironic that Gunboat’s owner was sailing on Prydwen so scuppered his own boat’s victory.

The Checkmate crew, consisting of Dave Cullen, Nigel Biggs, Pete Evans, Aidan Beggan, Franz Rothschild, Jonny Sargent and Gary Cullen enjoyed some great hospitality and some of that famous champagne sailing.

Published in Half Tonners
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With a 21-strong record entry, three new boats, a formidable defending title-holder and a two-times runner-up all in the mix, next month’s Euro Car Parks sponsored Half Ton Classics Cup has all the ingredients for a memorable championship from Sunday 13th to Friday 18th August 2017 at Kinsale Yacht Club.

New owner Phil Plumtree will carry on Swuzzlebubble's pedigree and will be aiming to make 2017 her third title win since successfully launching in 2014 under Peter Morton. Greg Peck followed this with victory again in 2016 so on paper appears to present a huge challenge and a good reason to be the bookies favourite.

DSC 1393Kinsale’s own new Half Tonner Cortegada (George Radley) Photo: Bob Bateman

But three new boats represent unknown challenges and include Checkmate XVIII owned by Nigel Biggs, Paul Wayte’s brand new un-raced Headhunter and Kinsale’s own George Radley whose new Half Tonner Cortegada should have the edge for local knowledge.

DSC 1393Checkmate XVIII skippered by Nigel Biggs Photo: Bob Bateman

However, a handful of other contenders could yet upset the form guide.

DSC 1393Mike Evans skippers 'The Big Picture' from Howth Yacht Club. Photo: Bob Bateman

Trastada from Scotland also has a strong track-record as does General Tapioca from Belgium that has several titles under her belt. The Kinsale championship represents unfinished business for Paul Pullen’s gorgeous Falmouth entry Miss Whiplash who has been runner-up for the last two years and he will be on a mission to take the Cup in 2017. There are also six Irish boats participating, all of whom have had success but Dave Cullen’s recent victories on Checkmate XV at Dun Laoghaire Regatta and the Sovereigns Cup places him best of the home fleet.

Half Tonner Trasdata 0651Trastada from Scotland competed in Dublin Bay waters at Dun Laoghaire Regatta. Photo: Afloat.ie

Amongst the six nations taking part, Finland will be represented by Superhero that is campaigned by long-standing Finnish Sailors Toni Stoscheck and Janne Tukolas.

Meanwhile, the ethos of the class will also be to the fore as the “True Spirit Award” remains the ultimate accolade for the boat that encompasses the spirit of the Half Ton Class and is open to any boat to win. “Gladiatorial on the water but best friends ashore” the class has a unique spirit where everyone shares and helps each other while protests are seriously frowned upon.

Pre-event front-runners for the award include Ian Van Burm’s beautiful evergreen wooden Half Tonner Fantasy and previously demonstrated the class spirit by sailing to the 2007 event in Dublin all the way from Belgium. Patrick Dijoud’s Pivoine will arrive by sea this year from France as the class’s newest addition.

One thing all of the teams are guaranteed is competitive racing under the stewardship of PRO Anthony O’Leary, plus a huge welcome from Kinsale Yacht Club and a week-long party that few will forget.

As well as being one of the most picturesque locations in Europe, Kinsale YC as the host venue is situated in the heart of Ireland’s culinary capital and is an area steeped in maritime history.

Published in Half Tonners

Sadly strong winds and huge seas meant that racing had to be cancelled on the final day of the Henri Lloyd Half Ton Classics Cup in Falmouth. Race Officer Jack Penty met with the skippers at 08.30 to review the situation, but it was clear conditions were essentially unsailable and the entire fleet unanimously agreed not to risk their historic little yachts.

That decision confirmed that the 1977 Bruce Farr designed Swuzzlebubble sailed by owner/helm Greg Peck, Steve George, Mike Relling, Kevin George, Mike Grieg, Andy Yeomans and James Dodd had won the 2016 Henri Lloyd Half Ton Classics Cup.

It was an extremely had fought series with many of the races being won and lost by mere seconds. Ultimately Swuzzlebubble's winning margin was just five and a half points from Paul Pullen's 1986 Andrieu designed Miss Whiplash, with Ireland's Jonny Swan and his team aboard Harmony, designed by Rob Humphreys in 1980, in third place. At the final prize giving all three teams received rousing cheers from their fellow competitors as they received their prizes from Paul Strzelecki, CEO of event sponsor Henri Lloyd.

Winning the Corinthian Championship for the first all amateur crew was Jonathan Cunliffe's 1985 Berrett/Finot designed Emiliano Zapata, which finished in eighth place overall.

The trophy for the first production boat went to Richard and Ursula Hollis's beloved 1985 Jeppersen X95 Crakajax. Richard and Ursula have been long standing supporters of the Half Ton Class and were very popular winners.

Perhaps the most prestigious perpetual trophy presented at the regatta is the Spirit Of Half Ton Trophy which is awarded to the person who best personifies the true spirit of the Half Ton Class. There were many possible winners of the trophy this year, but in a hugely popular decision it was presented to David Evans of Hullabaloo XV for his long standing support of the class, for his commitment to maintaining and racing his 1978 Stephen Jones Hustler SJ32 and for single-handedly sailing 380 miles through a force eight gate from his home port on Walton Back Waters in Essex to compete in Falmouth.

Greg Peck was clearly delighted to win the right to engrave his name on the trophy and was fulsome in his praise of his crew, his fellow competitors and the Flushing Sailing Club organisers.

Swuzzlebubble was originally built for Ian Gibbs to race for the New Zealand team in the 1977 Half Ton Cup in Sydney, and she has had a colourful career. Following changes to the IOR rule she underwent major surgery including exchanging her centreboard for a fixed keel, padding out her hull, changes to her rear sections and additional ballast, to compete in the 1979 Half Ton Cup in Scheveningen where she finished third. She was then sold to Bruce Lyster of Dun Laoghaire, Ireland under whose ownership she enjoyed continuing success including the UK Half Ton Championship of 1980 with Robert Dix at the helm. Her success continued under another Dun Laoghaire owner Gus Mehigan before she was sold to Switzerland, at which point she disappeared off the radar.

She wasn't heard of again until Peter "Morty" Morton tracked her down in a near derelict state in a Greek boatyard in late 2012. It took twelve months of hard work by Peter and his crew to get the boat back in racing shape and she made her Half Ton Classics Cup debut in 2014 at Saint Quay Portrieux, Brittany, where she roared to victory in impressive style.

Keen to race for the Half Ton Cup in home waters, Greg Peck persuaded Morty to part with her earlier this year and having got her home to Cornwall undertook some deck layout modifications and set about the task of putting together. a crew of old friends, many of whom have sailed with him for decades. Their performance on the water speaks for itself, but their spirit and camaraderie ashore have impressed everyone and there was a huge cheer when Greg confirmed that he hopes to defend his title in 2017.

To defend their title the Swuzzlebubble crew will be making their way to Kinsale Yacht Club in County Cork, Ireland from 14 to 18 August 2017. David Cullen will be leading the organising team for the event which will be hosted by Kinsale Yacht Club. Further information about this event will be published shortly

Published in Half Tonners
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Swuzzlebubble consolidated her lead on the penultimate day of the Henri Lloyd Half Ton Classics Cup 2016 but Howth Yacht Club entry Harmony lies third, one of three Irish Half Tonners in the top six overall. The Jonny Swan skippered entry is 14.5 points off the lead with Dublin club–mate Mike Evans in The Big Picture three points behind in fourth. Sixth is defending champion Dave Cullen in Checkmate. There are three more races today.

The penultimate day of the Classics Cup, sponsored by Savills and Mylor Rigging and Chandlery, could not have been more different to it's predecessors. Dawn broke with not a breath of wind, glassy seas and a heavy mist that persisted throughout the morning, causing Race Officer Jack Penty to hold the boats ashore for a couple of hours. Fortunately the mist cleared and a light west south westerly filled in so that by 12.30 the start for the first of the day's three races was in progress.

It took two general recalls followed by a start under the U Flag, meaning a 20% penalty if anyone had been over the line, to get the fleet away on race seven of the series. Once running it was a tricky windward leeward as the boats tried to pick their way around the shifty developing breeze. Mike Evans helming The Big Picture made the best of the situation to win by 19 seconds from overnight leader Greg Peck sailing Swuzzlebubble, with Paul Pullen's Miss Whiplash third and Jean-Philippe Cau and Claude Charbonnier's Sibelius fourth. There was a dead heat for fifth between Jonny Swan's Harmony and Patrick Boardman and David Kelly's King One.

With the breeze still refusing to build beyond single figures the race committee rolled straight into race eight. The patchy and shifty conditions meant there were big gains and losses to be made and at times it looked more like a game of snakes and ladders than a yacht race. Swuzzlebubble's experience and local knowledge stood her in good stead and she won by eight seconds from David Cullen's Checkmate with Miss Whiplash third, Francis Marshall's Concorde fourth and Harmony fifth.

A regatta course was set for ninth race and it was nip and tuck all the way with Harmony winning by a mere four seconds from Swuzzlebubble. Mel Sharp's Demolition finished third, her best result of the series, with King One fourth and The Big Picture fifth.

With nine races now completed a second discard came into play. Greg Peck's team of old friends aboard Swuzzlebubble consolidated their lead with a five and a half point delta over second placed Miss Whiplash. Harmony holds onto third with the gap between her and Miss Whiplash now at nine points. The Big Picture jumped up the leader board from sixth to fourth, just three points behind Harmony, while Sibelius added a pair of disastrous seventeenths to her race seven win, dropping her down the score board into fifth overall, half a point ahead of Checkmate.

After sailing the crews came together in the Regatta Marque for the Championship Dinner which featured a delicious paella supper, some fantastic fancy dress outfits, plenty of Half Ton cameraderie and a huge warm welcome for Paul Strzelecki, CEO of event sponsor Henri Lloyd, and his wife Jenny who arrived at the event in time to watch race nine.

With dinner over everyone repaired to the National Maritime Museum Cornwall for the daily prize giving, giving them the opportunity to view the museums special Olympic display which includes two of Ben Ainslie's Gold medal winning boats as well as many other historic Olympic exhibits.

Jonathan Cunliffe of Savills presented the daily prizes and then Paul Strzelecki made a special presentation to the winner of the new Henri Lloyd Concourse d'Elegance Trophy - for the best presented boat at the regatta. All the boats are kept in exceptional condition so to win this award the boat must be a true stand out. To huge applause the trophy was awarded to the beautifully restored Demolition owned by Falmouth based Mel Sharp. Demolition was designed in 1980 for Larry Marks, who took her to that year's Half Ton Cup in Sandham where she finished just outside the top ten, and is now raced by Mel and his crew of friends and family.

In theory, today's final day will feature up to three further races however, the weather forecast is anticipating some very strong south south westerly winds which are expected to build from around twenty knots in the morning to almost 30 knots with gusts of up to forty knots in the afternoon. Every effort will be made to complete the remaining races and the Race Committee has called a formal meeting with the skippers to review conditions first thing in the morning and agree on a racing plan for the day.

For full results here

Published in Half Tonners

#icra – The biggest Half Ton event of the year gets underway this morning as part of the Irish Cruiser Racing Championships at Kinsale Yacht Club. 

The annual (ICRA) Championship that combines the club's Sovereigns' Cup event runs until Saturday. Forecasted moderate to fresh south–westerly winds gusting up to 25 mph look set to provide perfect racing conditions.

There has been an exceptional response by sailing crews from almost every coastal county in Ireland and many from the UK, as 112 boats have entered the event. The four-day event will decide four national titles as well as the coveted Sovereign's Cup, ensuring close competition in each class.

Of the Half Ton boats listed to compete in Kinsale this morning, Checkmate won the international Half Ton Cup (HTCC) in France in 2013, and Harmony won it when the event was in Dun Laoghaire in 2009. Kinsale will prepare the crews for the big event of the season, the HTCC in Nieupoort, Belgium in late August.

An Irish boat has never won this event although Shay Moran had a third place in Nieupoort in 2003 and could have won in 2005 in Blue Berret Pi except for a technical hitch with a folding propellor.

Many believe it would be great to bring the HTCC back to Ireland, as the idea of holding a biennial Half Ton event was hatched by Shay Moran/Didier Dardot and Vincent Delany at Cork Week in 2001.

IRC 2 of the ICRA's is an ultra-competitive division. All eyes will be on the half Tonner 'Checkmate', that will be very well sailed. Others to watch will be 'Equinox,' 'Slack Alice,' 'Harmony' and 'The Big Picture.' Lighter/medium airs will favour the half tonners so it will be interesting to see how the weather affects this fleet.

The Half Tonners in action in Kinsale this morning are:

Checkmate XV- IRL2016- Dave Cullen- A Mills modified Humphreys MGHS30 of 1985.(formerly Blue Chip).

Big Picture - IRL5522- Michael and Richard Evans- A Mills modified Humphreys MGHS30 of 1987. (Formerly Red Eye).

Demelza - IRL100- Windsor Laudan- A Holland Shamrock of 1977.

Harmony - IRL1484- Johnny Swan- A modified Humphreys one-off in red cedar of 1980 vintage.

Maverick - GBR5369- Rene Koomen- A Humphreys MGHS30 of 1983.

King One- IRL8094- Pat Boardman- A modified Berret First Evolution of 1980. 

No Gnomes - IRL78- Leonard Donnery- A Holland Jubilee Shamrock. (formerly Silver Mite) 1978.

Meanwhile, in Division 0, the highest rated boat is the Ker 40 'Keronimo,' that is expected to plane at speeds in the high teens if the wind speed rises, so she will take some beating- particularly on the round the cans courses. 'Roxy' will worth watching also as she was on the 2010 commodores cup winning team and is expected to be well crewed. Conor and Denise Phelan's 'Jump juice' is also consistent and one to watch.

IRC 1 is a very competitive mix; the highest rated boat 'Bam' - a Sunfast 3600 - is somewhat of an unknown entity but her chined hull will suit the reaching around the cans courses. It will be very interesting to see how she stacks up against proven IRC performers such as the J109s and A35s.

Notable J109s include 'Jelly Baby' who is currently on fire having won the UK J109 nationals last week and the Vice Admirals Cup late last month. The A35 'Fools Gold' was overall winner of the Scottish series at the end of May and is expected to feature as is the D2D entrant JPK 9.60 'Alchimiste' and former ICRA Boat of the Year Pat Kelly's 'Storm.'

IRC 3 is no less competitive: all the Corby 25's will feature. However given good breeze is expected, word has it that 'Bad Company' and 'Dis a Ray' will be in the running for places.

IRC 4 features some strong quarter tonners that are expected to feature this year.

'Quest' and 'Black Fun' enjoy medium/heavy air, not forgetting a challenge from 'Anchor', a super all rounder.

If conditions favour planning, Flor O'Driscoll's J-24 is expected to do well, having come second at the J24 southerns held last weekend in RCYC.

It is hoped that the new divisions will make the event more competitive and enjoyable for all although the weather, as always, will be a major factor. As the current forecast suggests medium plus conditions, boats moded for such breeze or the larger boats in each division are expected to come to the fore.

Published in Half Tonners

#halfton – As well as defending Royal St. George YC champion Checkmate XV (Nigel Biggs), Ireland will send at least three more potent Half Tonners to the Classics Cup in France in two months time. Currently confirmed entries are Dave Cullen's King One and the Evans' brothers 'Big Picture' having just completed a major optimisation both from Howth with Harmony and George Radley's new boat from Kinsale yet to confirm.

The growing interest in the class is breathing life back into old boats that can be bought for as little as €5,000 and their ability to be towed is also seen as a great benefit.

While the Half Ton Classic Cup is raced on IRC and this is the prize the top boats have in their sights, the "Half Ton True Spirit" prize is regarded by many as the top prize and last year was won by a boat that had no optimisation whatsoever".

The entry list is expanding rapidly for the Half Ton Classics Cup which will be held at Saint Quay Portreiux in Northern Brittany from 7 to 11 July 2014. More than 30 teams are expected to attend, and this 7th edition of the regatta is anticipating a bumper turnout including many of the best known boats and sailors in the class.

Launched in 2003, the Half Ton Classics Cup led the way for the revival of the IOR Classes and its philosophy has helped to ensure that most boats remain as close to their original designs as possible.

This year the HTCC regatta will be a true European championship for small IRC rated boats, with all the top French and UK halftonners on the starting line.

With two weeks to go until the initial entry closing date of 31st May 2014, the Entry List alread includes some 25 boats with additional entries being added regularly. Among the well known names competing this year are past Half Ton Classics Cup winners General Tapioca, Chimp and Checkmate XV. There will also be several new faces at the event including Peter Morton, better known to many as the man behind the Quarter Ton Cup revival, who will be racing his IRC optimised Half Tonner Swuzzlebubble.

The regatta will be hosted by the Sport Nautique de Saint Quay Portrieux in collaboration with the Bruxelles Royal Yacht Club and the Half Ton Class Europe. Registration will open on Sunday 6 July, there will be practise racing on Monday 7 July and Championship racing will take place from Tuesday 8 to Friday 11 July.

Published in Half Tonners

#boatsforsale –  King One, the Howth Yacht Club based Half tonner that has competed for Ireland with success at Ramsgate week, the Isle of Wight and the Half ton Cup, is up for sale at €29,950. Skipper Dave Cullen, who won a string of trophies in the 1981 Half Ton Cup winner has updated the Modified Berret hull recent years. Now a 'serious contender' for the Cup again  the boat has had over €100k spent recently. Its 2014 IRC handicap is 0.953 and the yacht has a new Mark MIlls keel together with a new carbon Jason Ker rudder and tiller.

The GRP hull was stripped and faired just last season and also in 2013 Seatek racing stanchions and pulpit were fitted. 

Please click to view the full King One advert on Afloat boats for sale plus hundreds more yachts, motorboats and dinghies currently for sale.

Published in Half Tonners
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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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Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

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Featured Associations

ICRA
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Featured Webcams

Featured Events 2021

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Featured Sailmakers

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Featured Chandleries

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https://afloat.ie/resources/marine-industry-news/viking-marine

Featured Marinas

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Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
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