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Irish Ferries, owned by the Irish Continental Group, has reported lower revenues and earnings for 2020 due to Covid-19 travel restrictions on its passenger business.

Irish Continental Group said its revenues for the year fell by 22.5% to €277.1m from €357.4m in 2019, while EBITDA slumped 51.5% to €42.1m from €86.8m.

Overall the group generated an operating loss of €10.4m compared to operating profits of €64.9m in 2019.

ICG Chairman John B McGuckian said that 2020 was an exceptionally challenging year for the group due to the restrictions placed on travel due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

But the chairman said that while these restrictions brought large-scale disruption and reductions in its passenger business, the other parts of the business proved resilient throughout the entire year. 

More details reports RTE News here. 

Published in Irish Ferries

Ferryport of Pembroke Dock is where fears that the south Wales port could become a casualty of Brexit have proved unfounded, with Irish Ferries signing a 10-year deal with the Port of Milford Haven.

The company has signed the deal with the Port of Milford Haven for the berth at Pembroke Dock, which first came into operation under B&I Line in 1979. (Afloat adds see reference to MV Connacht's maiden sailing of Cork-Swansea before switching the Welsh port to Pembroke)

Since then, the port of Pembroke has seen multimillion pound investments to improve facilities and creating jobs and has become established as an important transport link with Europe.

In recent weeks, Westminster politicians have raised the suggestion that, as a result of Brexit, Pembrokeshire could only support a single port linking the county and the M4 corridor with the Irish Republic.

Member of the Senedd for Mid and West Wales Eluned Morgan has welcomed the decision, saying it underlines its commitment to the port of Pembroke.

More writes Western Telegraph on this development.

As Afloat reported earlier this month, general manager of Rosslare Europort said Wales should focus on just one ferry port in Pembrokeshire instead of two (Fishguard Harbour) to run alongside the main ferry port of Holyhead. The GM citing this would entice hauliers back to Welsh routes crossing the Irish Sea.

Published in Irish Ferries

Irish Ferries have further responded to demands from hauliers and new competition from Stena by boosting freight capacity with a second ferry added onto the Dublin-Cherbourg service this weekend, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Afloat ascertained this development having observed the chartered ro-pax Epilson (170 freight units) depart Dublin Port on Friday afternoon with an outbound sailing to the mainland European port. It transpires based from the operator's freight website that the sailing took place earlier than scheduled due to the adverse weather conditions on the Irish Sea (see related story).

Further research revealed that Epsilon's sailing schedule on the direct Ireland-France involves a single round trip at the weekends. Whereas, during week-days the ropax resumes routine crossings on the Dublin-Holyhead service in tandem with the cruiseferry Ulysses.

Noting that the ferry sector is a constantly evolving scene given Brexit etc and so further changes in flexibilty of schedules can easily be expected. This can be due to operational reasons and market demand. 

As for the present, Epsilon this morning is making its inbound sailing to Dublin Port (due 12.00) from where yesterday evening Afloat also observed the route's other ship, the cruiseferry W.B. Yeats (165 freight units) depart in the reverse direction. Also this morning, this ferry is nearing completion of the crossing to the north France port in Normandy.

The move by Irish Ferries is set against the backdrop of rivals, Stena Line which made a first entry on to the Ireland-France route this month. This new service is operated by Stena Estrid, which likewise of Irish Ferries, makes a single round trip at weekends before returning to weekday based Dublin-Holyhead sailings joining Stena Adventurer.

This is about to change as next week Stena Line is to withdraw Stena Estrid from the Ireland-Wales service and onto the Irish capital-continental route and therefore increase sailings and capacity. In addition, the smaller capacity Stena Horizon is to take 'Estrid's place by transferring to the Dublin-Holyhead route having operated Rosslare-Cherbourg service (see: newcomer Brittany Ferries) also run by ro-ro freighter Stena Foreteller.

As reported earlier this month the transfer of W.B Yeats from Dublin-Holyhead to the Ireland-France route took place more than four months in advance than scheduled. This in response to the rapid surge demanded by hauliers wanting to avoid the UK land-bridge and resultant complications of customs clearance of a post-Brexit UK.

W.B. Yeats at more than 50,000 gross tonnage is the largest ferry operating out of Ireland but due to heavy seas the ferry took a 'weather route' which involved departing Dublin Bay via the Baily Lighthouse and onward to the Kish Lighthouse and further offshore to deeper waters.

Otherwise in more favourable weather, the ferry heads south out of Dublin Bay via the Muglins Lighthouse and along off the east coast sandbanks until around off Wicklow Head. From these waters the course veers further offshore and towards the centre of the St. Georges Channel.

With Stena adding to Irish Ferries services on the Dublin-Cherbourg route, they follow the original pioneer on the direct route first launched by P&O Ferries in 2003 using the ro pax European Ambassador. On occasions subject to freight traffic demands, the ro pax would make en route calls to Rosslare Europort but on the majority of occasions this involved an arrival from France.

In the second year of service, P&O opened the route up to 'foot' passengers which was welcomed and also on a personal basis having taken the inaugural crossing on this direct and convenient connection to the continent.

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

Passengers coming from Britain to the Republic and subjected to a two-week quarantine, at a time when Boris Johnson’s government has exempted Irish citizens from its own restrictions, puts the entire Common Travel Area at risk post-Brexit, according to the head of ferry operator Irish Continental Group (ICG).

ICG, owner of Irish Ferries, has seen passenger numbers slump 60 per cent so far this year amid Covid-19 travel restrictions, it said in a trading statement on Thursday.

As The Irish Times writes, the company has written to the Government arguing that a requirement that people travelling to the State should self-isolate for 14 days is not consistent in the Common Travel Area (CTA) with the UK government’s position that no such measures be taken by passengers travelling from the Republic to Britain.

“There is nothing to stop people from Britain visiting Ireland by transiting via Northern Ireland without the requirement to self-isolate, which is clearly anomalous,” ICG said.

Speaking to The Irish Times, ICG chief executive Eamonn Rothwell said: “The CTA is going to be very important to Ireland post-Brexit. We don’t want to risk the British people turning around and saying, ‘Hold on a sec, we’re letting Irish people travel to Britain but you’re forcing British people to go via Northern Ireland.’ There’s a risk that they’ll retaliate.”

The Government’s quarantine rules for travellers came into effect on May 28th and are due initially to last until June 18th. 

For more click here noting the reference to ICG's decision to cancel an order for a new Dublin-Holyhead ferry with a shipbuilder, after the German shipyard company filed for protection from its creditors in April.

Published in Irish Ferries

Ferry operator, Irish Continental Group (ICG) has said its division, Irish Ferries experience passenger numbers slump by 60 per cent so far this year due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.

The company, according to The Irish Times, also said in a trading statement that it has cancelled an order with shipmaker Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft (FSG) to build a new vessel, after the German company filed for protection from its creditors in April.

ICG, led by chief executive Eamonn Rothwell, said that it has written to the Government arguing that a requirement that people travelling to the State should self-isolate for 14 days is not consistent in the Common Travel Area with the UK government’s position that no such measures be taken by passengers travelling from the Republic to Britain.

“There is nothing to stop people from Britain visiting Ireland by transiting via Northern Ireland without the requirement to self-isolate, which is clearly anomalous,” ICG said.

While ICG said that its freight business has remained relatively robust during the coronavirus pandemic, it is currently unable to estimate the full-year financial impact of the fall-off in passenger revenue. “The severity of this reduction in passenger revenue is dependent on the duration and nature of travel restrictions, particularly over the peak summer season,” it said.

Roll-on, roll-off freight volumes have fallen 4 per cent in the year to June 6th, while container volumes have dropped 13 per cent.

For more notably the cancellation to order a second newbuild cruiseferry click here.

Afloat adds the €165.2m newbuild for the Dublin-Holyhead route was based from the same design of W.B. Yeats of 54,975 gross tonnage (165 lorries) but larger at 67,300grt (330 lorries). This would enable the world's largest ferry with this level of freight capacity operate on the core Irish Sea route exclusively. 

Due to Covid-19, the W.B Yeats which Afloat reported yesterday had only resumed service on the Dublin-Cherbourg route in its role as the summer-operated cruiseferry. On Tuesday the cruiseferry began on the first round trip which was completed with an arrival to Dublin Port this morning. 

Prior to the return of W.B Yeats on the year-round operated route (by ropax Epsilon) to mainland Europe, W.B. Yeats as scheduled served the Dublin-Holyhead route with sailings over the winter months. Originally the cruiseferry was expected to re-enter the French route three months ago.  

Published in Irish Ferries

Irish Continental Group, parent company of Irish Ferries has reported higher revenues and earnings for the year to the end of December, as its new ferry, the W.B.Yeats, came into service.

As according to RTE News, ICG's revenue for the year increased by 8.2% to €357.4m, while its earning before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation rose by almost 27% to €86.8m from €68.4m.

Overall group operating profit (EBIT) for the year increased by 8.2% to €64.9m and the company said it is proposing a final dividend of 8.99 cent, an increase of 5%.

Shares in the company sailed over 4% higher in Dublin trade this morning.

For more including ICG's container shipping divisions click here.

Published in Ferry

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
Page 2 of 18

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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