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The Irish Continental Group (ICG) which is the parent company and owner of Irish Ferries has called for ‘green lanes’ for freight on UK-Ireland routes, for goods destined for Northern Ireland.

On Thursday, ICG used a trading update in regards to the post-Brexit Windsor Agreement (reached in February) which will see the majority of customs checks suspended for trade transported between Britain and Northern Ireland. ICG have called for this arrangement also to be replicated for freight when travelling from Britain, via Ireland and onwards to the North.

“If a trader can be trusted to enter Northern Ireland and not enter the Republic of Ireland, then it would appear logical that the trader can be equally trusted to enter via the Republic of Ireland and go directly to Northern Ireland,” commented ICG.

“This would allow Northern Ireland goods to travel via the shortest, most efficient, and environmentally friendly route.”

The Dublin based maritime transport group, added that they have written to the Irish government and the EU to ask them to consider the proposal.

The call by ICG follows as revenue and volumes in its container brand (EUCON) and terminal divisions, Dublin Ferry Terminals (DFT) and Belfast Container Terminal (BCT) remain down, while its ferries division saw a boost.

More from Independent.ie on the ferry division that Afloat also reported is to introduce Oscar Wilde onto the Ireland-UK (Wales) route of Pembroke-Rosslare from where they also operate directly to France on mainland Europe.

In addition, in 2021 they launched a UK-France service on the premier short-sea route of Dover-Calais . 

Published in Irish Ferries

Irish Ferries parent company Irish Continental Group (ICG), has reported a big jump in revenues as travel restrictions from Covid eased compared to the same time last year.

ICG said its group revenues in the trading period 10 months prior to the end of October soared to €500.5m, an increase of 78.9% compared with last year and a 62.1% increase on 2019.

In the ferry division which has four routes linking between Ireland, the UK and France, revenue came to €338m, an increase of 133.9% on the previous year and 83.4% rise on 2019.

According to the Dublin based group, the increases was mainly due to travel restrictions eased, coupled with an increased fuel surcharges. In addition the launch in June, 2021 on the UK-France route of Dover-Calais service operated by a trio of ferries competing with DFDS and P&O Ferries.

The ferry operator reported in the year up to 19 November that it carried a total of 525,600 cars which was an increase of 198% compared to the previous year.

For more RTE News reports figures for freight during the same trading period.

Published in Irish Ferries

Irish Ferries parent company the Irish Continental Group has reported an increase in revenue for the first four months of the year.

In a trading statement, the group provides comparisons to the same period last year as well as to the first four months of 2019, the year before the pandemic struck.

ICG said group revenue up to the end of April this year came in at €161.2 million - an increase of 80.5% on last year, but it was also up over 57% on 2019 levels.

Net debt increased by €30 million to stand at just over €174 million.

The increase in debt was accounted for by strategic capital expenditure mainly arising from the acquisition of two ferries for their new Dover-Calais service as Afloat reported, the Ciudad de Mahón from a Spanish operator and Calais Seaways from a Danish company.

RTE News has more from both the ferry and container/terminal divisions.

To consult ICG's Trading Statement, click here.

Published in Irish Ferries

Higher revenues for the six months to the end of June have been reported by the Irish Continental Group, but a drop in earnings before interest and tax as the Covid-19 pandemic continued to create an "exceptionally challenging" trading environment for the company.

ICG which owns Irish Ferries, said its revenues rose by 8.3% to €141.6m, while EBIT generated was a loss of €10.3m, €0.8m worse than the same time last year.

The company reported a loss before tax of €12.2m compared to a loss before tax of €11.2m last year.

ICG said that travel restrictions in place in the first half of the year materially reduced its passenger business.

But it added that it has maintained services on all of its shipping routes, keeping critical logistical links to the island of Ireland.

RTE News has more to report here.

Published in Irish Ferries

Ferry company owner Irish Continental Group has reported a 26% drop in revenues for the first 10 months of 2020 as the number of cars it carried on its ferries slumped by 66.8%.

In a trading update, ICG which operate Irish Ferries (services to the UK and France), said its revenues for the ten months to the end of October fell to €229m, a decrease of €79m on the same time last year.

ICG said its ferries division faced challenging trading conditions after the continuation of travel restrictions across the EU which were first introduced in the middle of March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It said that car volumes were down 66.8% to 122,700 from 369,700 the same time last year, with total passenger volumes down 68% compared with 2019.

ICG said this has had a material impact on passenger revenues, which were 71% lower in the year to October 31 compared to 2019.

But it added that its Irish Ferries ro-ro freight carryings have been more robust with retention of full freight schedules providing critical logistical links to the island of Ireland, with ro-ro freight carryings up 4% compared with 2019.

Further coverage from RTE News in addition a link to consult ICG's trading statement in full. 

Published in Ferry

Irish Ferries parent company Irish Continental Group has reported a drop in revenues and earnings for the first six months of the year amid a challenging background of depressed economic activity and travel restrictions imposed across the EU because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

ICG said this had led to a significant reduction in passenger traffic, however freight activity across the group has been less affected.

Revenues for the six months to the end of June decreased by 21.6% to €130.8m from €166.8m the same time last year, while EBITDA sank by 66.7% to €10m from €30m.

ICG, which owns Irish Ferries, posted a loss before tax of €11.2m compared with a profit before tax of €24.9m the same time last year.

The company said the trading conditions faced by the group since March, particularly in its passenger business, have been the most challenging encountered in its 32 year history.

More here RTE News reports on this story. 

Published in Ferry

Ferry and container operator Irish Continental Group (ICG) reported revenues fell more than 21 per cent in the first six months of the year as the coronavirus pandemic caused economies to shut down.

But the group, reports Irish Times, said it remained in a strong financial position to weather the Covid-19 storm.

The ferry company (Irish Ferries) said consolidated revenue for the six months to June 30th 2020 fell 21.6 per cent to €130.8 million, dragged lower by a 65 per cent decline in passenger volumes over the period. Net debt at the end of the period was €103.3 million, down from €129.0 million at the end of December 2019.

The ferries division showed a decline of more than 33 per cent, with revenue at €61.6 million for the year. Passenger cars were down 65 per cent to 56,600, compared with 161,200 a year earlier.

The container and terminal division saw a 6.6 per cent fall in revenues for the six months, as supply chains were disruption by Covid-19. Over the year to July 25th, container freight volumes were 10.5 per cent lower at 178,300 20-foot equivalent units, with units handled at the Dublin Port and Belfast Harbour (see: terminals) down 13.6 per cent year on year to 160,100 lifts.

For further reading click here

In addition Afloat adds to consult ICG's Trading Update (here) that was released today.

Published in Ferry

Dublin based Irish Continental Group (ICG) has brought its sixth containership.

The shipowner and ferry operator, reports Tradewinds, has acquired the 974teu CT Rotterdam (built 2009), for an undisclosed price.

Afloat adds that the container vessel was preceeded by another acquisition in April as outlined further below.

On Wednesday the Group released a trading update which saw increased revenue in its passenger /freight division, Irish Ferries.

According to the trading update, in April an acquisition took place of the Thetis D. Afloat can reveal the lo-lo vessel has a capacity for 1421teu. The containership was built in 2009 likewise of the aforementioned CT Rotterdam which was acquired this month.

The group's Container & Terminal Division includes lo-lo shipping activities under the Eucon brand and the operation of two container terminals, Dublin Ferryport Terminals (DFT) and Belfast Container Terminal (BCT).

The trading update for this division, revealed a total revenue volume of €131.0 million in the period to 31 October, this was a 9.1% increase on the previous year. For more on the performance of this sector as part of the Group's overall trading update can be read by clicking here.

Published in Ports & Shipping

Irish Continental Group, the parent company of Irish Ferries has reported revenue of €308.8m in the first ten months of 2019, an increase of 8.2pc on the same period last year.

As the Independent.ie writes, ICG said a "significant" proportion of the improvement came from the ferries division, on the back of improved scheduling reliability following major disruptions in 2018.

Despite this, it experienced "some volatility in carryings as key Brexit dates were approached and subsequently postponed".

The overall effect of this continuing uncertainty "is generating negative impact on consumer sentiment and trade flows as investment decisions are delayed".

For further reading click here. 

Published in Ferry

Maritime transport operator, Irish Continental Group has reported revenue 6% higher for the half year, following the introduction of the WB Yeats cruise ferry on schedule services with Irish Ferries in January.

Earnings per share, reports RTE News, however, were down 16% to 12.8 cent. ICG reported its interim dividend increased by 5% to 4.42 cent.

The company is concerned about the impact of Brexit but says it can pursue other opportunities, and remains confident for continued revenue growth.

ICG sold the Oscar Wilde ferry in April for €28.9 million, following the sale, a year earlier, of the Jonathan Swift for €15.5 million.

Fuel costs increased by €3.1 million to €25.5 million in the six month period.

Click here for more on this story. 

Published in Ferry
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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