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Domestic coastal and marine tourism could help to “reboot” a sector which has been badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, a new report by NUI Galway (NUIG) finds.

“Marine-active” holidaymakers tend to stay longer and spend more than the average visitor, the study of domestic tourism by NUIG’s Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU) says.

Total expenditure by domestic tourists in coastal areas was estimated to be €698 million in 2018, which represents 35% of the total expenditure by domestic tourists that year, the study says.

The marine-related activity expenditure on overnight trips is estimated to have generated revenue of €381 million, with €172 million of this being spent on water-based activities.

The study found that average expenditure per coastal day trip in 2018 was €95, and the equivalent for coastal overnight trips was €310.

A survey for the study found that the most popular land-based coastal activities were walking/running along the coast/beach/cliffs/, beach or seaside trips, and coastal sightseeing.

The most popular water-based activities were sea swimming, surfing, recreational boating of different types and sea angling.

It notes that “significant differences in participation rates were observed across a number of socio-demographic classifications, including age, social class and education attainment levels”.

The results also indicate that domestic tourists undertake the majority of their marine activities on the west and south Irish coasts.

The authors argue that “given the observed differences in marine activity... across the social classes”, a “worthy policy objective would be ensuring that all sections of society can access.. the well-being and mental health benefits”.

. “Given the current crisis this is more important than ever,” the authors state.

“It also offers an opportunity to develop new marine tourism offerings focused on the expanding consumer demand for wellness services and products,” they state.

Stephen HynesCo-author of the report Dr Stephen Hynes

Dr Stephen Hynes, director of SEMRU and co-author, said that while the results predate the impact of the current pandemic, they “highlight the economic contribution that domestic marine tourism and leisure activity makes under normal circumstances to coastal regions, particularly those regions outside the capital”.

“Also, given that it is likely that the overseas tourism market will take much longer to recover, and Irish residents’ travel abroad will also be curtailed, the industry should be examining how they can maximise the return from the domestic tourism market this year and next,” he said.

Commenting on the report, Prof Alan Ahearne of NUIG’s Whitaker Institute noted that the World Tourism Organisation is forecasting that international tourist arrivals could plunge 60-80% this year, and “may remain at depressed levels next year”.

“Tourism in Ireland will be looking to domestic demand for recovery - and the evidence points to the huge potential for coastal and marine tourism to contribute to rebooting activity in this sector,” Prof Ahearne said.

Download the full report from NUIG below as a PDF

Published in Aquatic Tourism

#Rowing: Seven different clubs won in the second session of finals on the second day of the Irish Championships. The races were run in hot sunshine.

Two women's finals senior finals were won in emphatic fashion. Georgia O'Brien of Kenmare won in the women's senior single sculls to give the club its second Championship. NUIG were also well in control in their victory in the women's senior pair.

Sadhbh Scully of Carlow, who is a junior, followed the trend in her big win in the women's club single sculls.

The women's junior 18 eights was a tighter affair, though Bann, once in the lead, held on strongly to rebuff Enniskillen.  

The men's junior quadruple was a big event, with Lee taking the title ahead of Three Castles and Neptune.

Cork clubs are having a good Championships, and UCC took the women's club eights.

Skibbereen figured strongly in some finals, but had their first Championship win when Kealan Mannix won the intermediate single sculls from Shane Haugh of Castleconnell.

Published in Rowing

#Rowing: NUIG had a very good first day at the Irish Championships at the National Rowing Centre, taking four titles.

They won the women's senior four, the women's intermediate eight and the women's club coxed four. Sadhbh O'Connor and Fiona Murtagh added the women's senior double sculls for the Galway club.

Enniskillen took two notable titles: their men's junior eight came through under pressure from Colaiste Iognaid, and the women's junior four won from Bann.

Fionnan Crowley retained his title in the men's senior single sculls. The Castleconnell man - a brother of Aileen, who was doing well in the Ireland pair at Rotterdam - won by under a length from Niall Beggan of Commercial, who came at him hard in the closing stages.

UCD's senior four also successfully defended their title.

Tom Kelly won the junior single - the first Championships for the Kenmare club. Kelly, who turns 17 next month, is coached by Noel Casey, who is 85. Casey as based in Britain for decades and coached British women's crews to the Los Angeles Olympic Games.

Carlow's Sadhbh Scully and Ciara Egan won the women's junior double - a first title at this level for the club.

Trinity won the men's club eight in a good race, while Cork Boat Club won the men's intermediate coxed four, and Anna Liffey the women's intermediate pair.

NUIG pushed Queen's hard in the men's novice coxed quadruple, but the Belfast men came through. The women's novice coxed quad from Queen's also won, giving them two victories on a busy day.

Published in Rowing

#Rowing: Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler, the world’s best women’s pair, beat Sadhbh O’Connor and Natalie Long of NUIG and Skibbereen in the heat of the Hambleden Pairs at Henley Royal Regatta today. The Irish women, who had qualified, saw the New Zealanders move away from them and win well.  

Henley Royal Regatta, Day Three (Selected Results; Irish interest)

Hambleden Pairs (Women’s Pairs, Open): G Prendergast, K Gowler bt S O’Connor, N Long

Published in Rowing

#Rowing: NUIG won the much-anticipated women’s senior four final at the Irish Rowing Championships today. Trinity made the early moves, but NUIG moved before halfway, with Commercial and Cork Boat Club also coming into contention. From there the Galway club took it and won from Commercial by over three seconds. Cork were third.

Published in Rowing

#Rowing: Cork Boat Club raced well but made their exit to  New Jersey crew Montclare Mounties in the Thames Cup at Henley Royal Regatta. The Americans started powerfully and took an early one-length lead. Cork stayed calm and bit chunks out of the lead as the crews entered the enclosures area. Montclare would not yield: they finished well and won by three-quarters of a length.

 NUIG secured an early lead and held it until the final stages of their race in the Prince Albert for student coxed fours. Columbia University then swept past and won by one and three-quarter lengths.  

 Yale, with Daire Lynch in the three seat, beat Princeton in a thrilling race in the Temple Cup. Princeton, who had trailed, darted to the line and came within a canvas of winning.

Henley Royal Regatta, Day Three (Irish interest; selected results)

Temple Cup  (Eights, College): Yale (3 D Lynch) bt Princeton, canvas.

Thames Cup (Eights, club): Montclair Mounties, United States bt Cork Boat Club ¾l .

Prince Albert (Fours, coxed; Student): Columbia University, US bt NUIG 1¾ l.

Double Sculls (Open): G O’Donovan, P O’Donovan bt S Cox, T Oliver  4¾ l.

Published in Rowing

#Rowing: NUIG had an exciting win over ASR Nereus of the Netherlands in the Prince Albert Cup for student coxed fours at Henley Royal Regatta. The early stages were tight, but the Dutch took the lead and held it down most of the course. Coming into the enclosures NUIG exerted fierce pressure – and it worked. They drew level and won by a canvas.

 Trinity beat the University of London B by one and three-quarter lengths in the first round of the Temple Cup at Henley Royal Regatta. The Dublin University crew started well and fashioned a strong lead which their opponents could not whittle away.

Henley Royal Regatta, Day One (Selected Results; Irish interest)

Thames Cup (Eights, Club): Cork Boat Club bt Potomac, United States ¾ l, 6 min 35 sec.

Temple Cup (Eights, College): Trinity bt University of London B 1¾l, 6:40.

Prince Albert (Fours, coxed; Student): NUIG bt ASR Nereus, The Netherlands canvas, 7:13

Fawley (Quadruple, Junior): Neptune bt Tideway Scullers’ School ‘C’ 2/3l, 7:04.

Published in Rowing
Tagged under

#Rowing: NUIG’s development coxed four won twice on the second day of Henley Women’s Regatta and will compete in the semi-final on Sunday. They beat Aberdeen in the afternoon and then overcame Molesey by one length in the evening after a good race. They face Lea in the semi-final.

The NUIG crew which competed in the Championship Eight were beaten by Yale.

Published in Rowing
Tagged under

#Rowing: Two NUIG crews made it through time trials on the first day of Henley Women’s Regatta and will compete on Saturday. In the Championship Eight, NUIG will take on Yale University (scheduled for 2.40), while the Development Coxed Four have been drawn to take on Aberdeen C at 2.04. Tribesmen were allowed only to compete in the time trial of the Championship Eight.

 Three Irish crews made their exits: UCD’s eight, the four from Queen’s University and Cork’s Boat Club’s Championship Double. Commercial’s Championship Lightweight Pair have a bye into the semi-final and go into action first on Sunday (10.20).  

Henley Women’s Regatta (Irish interest)

Friday

Championship Eight: NUIG made it through Time Trial.

Aspirational Academic Eight: Bath Univ/Bristol Univ bt UCD, 2 ½ l.

Aspirational Academic Four: Exeter Univ bt Queen’s A, nro

Development Coxed Four: NUIG made it through Time Trial.

Championship Doubles: Leander bt Cork A (C Deasy, J Rigothi) 4 ½ l.

Published in Rowing

#Rowing: Commercial finished second to Leander in the men’s Championship Eights at London Metropolitan Regattta at Dorney Lake today. It was one of a string of good results for Irish clubs. NUIG and Tribesmen shone and teamed up to win the women’s Championship coxed four. UCC – who took second in the Championship single sculls through Ronan Byrne – also excelled. Trinity, the University of Limerick, Shandon and Castleconnell also had wins. 

London Metropolitan Regatta, Dorney Lake (Irish interest; selected results, winners unless stated)

Men

Eight – Championship: 1 Leander 5:49.90, 2 Commercial 5:52.74.

Four – Championship: 3 Commercial 6:12.20. Tier Two: Shandon.

Four, coxed – Tier Three: Tribesmen 6:32.26. Academic, Tier Two: NUIG.

Pair – Tier Two: UCC 7:14.93.

Double Sculls – Championship: 2 UCC (R Byrne, H Sutton) 6:32.50. Tier Two: Castleconnell 6:42.50.

Single Sculls – Championship: 2 UCC (R Byrne) 7:03.99. Tier Two: Univ of Limerick (K Mannix) 7:18.36. Tier Three: St Michael’s (D O’Connor).

Women

Eight – Club, Tier Two: NUIG/Tribesmen 6:50.64. Academic, Tier Two: Trinity 6:57.77.

Four – Academic, Tier Two: Trinity 7:08.62.

Four, coxed – Championship: NUIG/Tribesmen 7:20.88. Tier Four: Univ of Limerick.

Pair – Championship: 2 Commercial (H O’Neill, R Morris) 7:46.57. Tier Two: NUIG 7:39.84.

Double Sculls – Championship: 3 London/Skibbereen (M Jackson, N Long) 7:28.48.

Published in Rowing
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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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