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Displaying items by tag: North Sea

#lectures - ‘North Sea Odyssey –3,600nm in a Shipman 28’ by Christine Heath is the title of the next Friends of Glenua presentation to be held in Dublin in aid of the RNLI.

The Presentation on Thursday 4 April at 8pm will be held in the Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club, Pigeon House Rd, Ringsend, Dublin 4. There will be an entry contribution of €5 in aid of the RNLI. 

Lecture Background: Setting off from Dun Laoghaire in 2016 in Gusto, her Shipman 28, Christine Heathand friends sailed via the English Channel to Friesland in the Netherlands. They continued in 2017 to Oxelosund in Sweden. From there they crossed Sweden via the Gota Canal, then to Norway and finally to Inverness.

Her North Sea Odyssey is the latest chapter in a long and adventurous cruising life,extending to Iceland and beyond the Arctic Circle to the ice-strewn waters of Spitsbergen and Novaya Zemlya. She has been involved in sail training since she was 15 (in Coiste an Asgard) and later with Glenans. Hence her support for the Watersports Inclusion Games which will be held in Kinsale, 24 and 25 August.

This will be a FREE event celebrating sailing, rowing and canoeing for people of all abilities from the physical, sensory,intellectual and learning ability/disability spectrums. Johanne Murphy, Irish Sailing Watersports Inclusion Games Officer, will provide further details before Christine’s presentation.

Published in Dublin Bay

#MarineWildlife - Marine scientists have been puzzled by the recent beaching of a whale rarely seen off the east coast of England.

According to the Guardian, the carcass of a 12m fin whale washed up at Holkham in Norfolk last Thursday afternoon (20 October), far from its usual waters between Britain and Ireland.

“You never get them in the North Sea, so what it was doing there, we have no idea at the moment,” biologist Dr Ben Garrod told the newspaper.

It’s not yet known what causes the marine giant’s death, though collision with a vessel in the North Sea has been mooted as one possibility, as the Eastern Daily Press reports.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#RNLI - Three bodies have been recovered from the water after a helicopter with 18 people on board crashed in the North Sea last night (Friday 23 August).

RNLI lifeboats from Aith and Lerwick in the Shetland Isles have spent the night involved in a multi-agency rescue operation, following reports that a helicopter had ditched into the sea west of Sumburgh airport.

It's believed the helicopter, a Super Puma L2, was carrying 16 passengers and two crew from the Borgsten Dolphin oil platform in the North Sea.

Both volunteer lifeboat crews made their way to the scene throughout the evening and assisted in the search for passengers with other agencies, including two coastguard rescue helicopters, a passenger ferry and a cargo vessel.

Fourteen people were rescued while the lifeboats were still making their way to the scene.

But early this morning Police Scotland conformed that three bodies had been recovered, two of which were recovered by Lerwick RNLI lifeboat and taken to a nearby pier. Work is now underway to recover the fourth individual.

A spokesperson for the RNLI said: "Sadly the bodies of three people have been recovered in the aftermath of yesterday’s crash, and we know that agencies are working to recover the body of the fourth person.

"We can confirm that the RNLI lifeboat crew from Lerwick lifeboat station recovered two of those people. The lifeboat crew transported them to Sumburgh and we are liaising with other authorities as things develop.

"Obviously this is the news that everyone, included our lifeboat volunteers, dreaded – our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of those four people. We can also confirm that one of our lifeboats has also been involved in reclaiming wreckage from the scene as part of the operation."

The wreckage of the helicopter is in a fairly inaccessible position near cliffs, and weather conditions at the time were described as not particularly good.

Lerwick RNLI lifeboat managed to tow the wreckage off rocks and it was being held in the shelter of a bay until a recovery operation could commence.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#MARINE WILDLIFE - Two killer whales have been spotted near Kinsale in recent weeks, the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) reports.

Two separate sightings of the orca pair near Barry's Head have been confirmed by the group, via photos provided by John Murphy and Richard Cussen on 5 March, during what is normally the 'low season' for whale watching in Ireland.

The pair comprises one adult male and a smaller whale which is likely an adult female. It is not yet known, however, whether the whales are new to Irish or Scottish waters.

According to the IWDG's Pádraig Whooley, it is "interesting that they have stayed close to their original position and suggests they may have found 'rich pickings'".

In other news, the Whale and Dolphin Roadshow will be at the Galway Shopping Centre from 22-25 March in time for the European Cetacean Society Conference.

The roadshow "is a fantastic opportunity to learn more about whales, dolphins and porpoise of the ASCOBANS region" that encompasses the Baltic Sea, Northeast Atlantic and Irish and North Seas.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#FISHING - The Guardian reports that an alliance of EU member states plans to "hijack" a council meeting of the union's fisheries ministers today to prevent a ban on fish discards.

EU maritime affairs commissioner Maria Damanaki has stated her commitment to ending the practice, describing it as “unethical, a waste of natural resources and a waste of fishermen’s effort.”

Half of all fish in the North Sea - and up to two-thirds in other areas - are thrown back under the quota system implemented under the EU's common fisheries policy. The practice was recently highlighted by TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's 'Fish Fight' campaign.

Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney has called on EU states to support Ireland's effort to deal with fish discards, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

But some member states, led by France and Spain, have dismissed the proposed ban as "unrealistic" and "too prescriptive", and will attempt to pass a declaration to allow the practice to continue indefinitely.

According to the Guardian, the charge is being led by industrial-scale fishing enterprises who want to retain the permission to discard lower value fish in order to maximise profits.

Brussels insiders say that if the declaration were to pass it would "kill the reform".

Published in Fishing

#COASTAL NOTES - Providence Resources has struck big off the south coast of Cork with an oil flow that could be worth billions of euro to the beleaguered Irish economy.

According to the Guardian, the Dublin-based company announced yesterday that oil had started to flow successfully from its Barryroe structure in the north Celtic Sea at nearly twice the rate previously projected.

Providence Resources CEO Tony O'Reilly Jr said the discovery was a "seminal day for Ireland, especially in the runup to St Patrick's Day."

Last month the firm had confirmed the presence of light oil with its first appraisal well at the site, a situation described by its technical director as "extremely encouraging".

Now that a steady flow has been achieved, future extraction from the oil field - comparable to a medium-to-large North Sea field - can surely proceed, which now puts pressure on the Government to grand permission for further exploration around the Irish coast.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, plans by Providence Rescources to prospect for oil on the east coast off Dalkey Island have been met with fierce opposition by mainland residents and environmental groups.

The Guardian has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#SHIPPING - The transfer of hazardous cargo from the stricken tanker at the entrance to Belfast Lough has been delayed yet again due to winds nearing hurricane strength.

The Belfast Telegraph reports that the Genmar Conpanion - which was redirected to Belfast after reporting a cracked hull en route from Rotterdam to New York - will remain sheltering off the Copeland Islands until the weather improves.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the ship-to-ship transfer of 54,000 tonnes of vacuum gas oil was originally scheduled to take place on 31 December last, but the task was pushed back as the receiving ship, BW Seine, was delayed by weather in the North Sea.

It had then been hoped to begin the transfer early yesterday with the receiving ship's arrival, but the strong storm-force winds that have increasingly battered Ireland in the last 36 hours put paid to those plans.

Ship-to-ship transfers can take place in wind speeds of up to 35 knots, but yesterday the wind speed in Belfast Lough was reported as more than double that.

Hugh Shaw, the NI Secretary of State's representative for maritime salvage and intervention, told the Belfast Telegraph: "As soon as we have a window to do the ship-to-ship transfer safely we will take it.

"Winds have been dropping a bit, but it looks unlikely the operation will take place on Wednesday."

Published in Ports & Shipping

#SHIPPING - The transfer of cargo from the damaged oil tanker sheltering at the entrance to Belfast Lough has been posponed for at least two more days.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the 228-metre Germar Companion - which is carrying 54,000 tonnes of vacuum gas oil - was redirected to Belfast after reporting a cracked hull en route from Rotterdam to New York.

The merchant vessel has been sheltering off the Copeland Islands since 16 December, where an official examination recommended removal of the cargo.

Today (31 December 2011) had been the scheduled start date for the move of the tanker's hazardous cargo by ship-to-ship tranfer. But the move has been delayed as the second ship, the BW Seine, is still en route to Belfast Lough.

"It is currently in the North Sea and could take another two days before it reaches the vessel and starts to transfer the cargo," a coastguard spokesperson told the Belfast Telegraph.

The transfer will be managed by specialist company Fendercare Marine in the lough, and could take between 24 and 36 hours. Once finished, the Germar Companion will sail into Belfast for repairs.

Published in Ports & Shipping
The Mainport Group, an Irish owned integrated marine services company have bare-boat chartered the AHTS Dina Alliance from Norwegian interests, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Dina Alliance is a supply seismic support vessel which is currently on duty servicing three other seismic vessels operating in the North Sea on behalf of Mainport clients. She was built in 2009 by Fujian, China as an anchor handling tug supply (AHTS).

On board the 60m vessel there is an aft clear working deck space used for supplies which is capable of handling two 20ft reefer containers and a single 20ft storage container. The vessels' powerplant is provided by 2 x Caterpillar 3516B main-engines of 1920kW (5150bhp) at 1500 rpm which drive twin kort nozzles propellers and equipped with a corresponding pair of high-lift rudders.

Accommodation is for 42 berths (11 for officers and crew) and other marine personnel (numbering 31) in addition to two hospital berths. All of the cabins are air-conditioned with washrooms/WC.

Dina Alliance brings the Mainport Group fleet total to 24 vessels (for list click HERE) which are deployed in various sectors engaged in offshore support vessels covering safety standby, tugs, tanker assist, towage, bunkering and seismic support services.

Earlier this year the company's Foynes based tug Celtic Isle was requested to assist in refloating the stricken combi-heavy lift vessel Pantanel which had dragged its anchor in stormy seas after running aground in Cashla Bay, Rossaveal. The German-owned vessel was to load two former Aran Direct owned fast-ferries that operated from the Connemara harbour on a delivery voyage bound for Mauritius.

Mainport is a Cork based operation with offices located in Foynes, Limerick, Drogheda in addition to operations overseas in Durban and Johannesburg in South Africa and Aktau in Kazakhstan.

Published in Ports & Shipping
Fishing boats will have to land their entire catch - whether or not the fish are in a saleable condition - according to new European Union proposals.
The Guardian reports that EU fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki has pledged to bring and end to the "nightmare of discards" in response to the high-profile campaign against the practice of fishermen dumping dead fish from their catch.
Half of all fish in the North Sea - and up to two-thirds in other areas - are thrown back under the quota system implemented under the EU's common fisheries policy.
Damanaki said that her proposed reforms to the system would be phased in over a number of years pending approval by the European parliament.
She acknowledged the concerns of fishermen, who fear the value of their catch will plummet if they are not allowed the choice of which fish to keep, but said they would benefit in the long term as ending discards would help to protect stocks of commercial fish.
Meanwhile, Irish conservation groups have joined a worldwide campaign to put the environment at the heart of the EU's fishing reforms.
The Irish Times reports that Birdwatch Ireland, Coastwatch Europe, the Irish Wildlife Trust and Irish Seal Sanctuary have all signed up to the Ocean 2012 initiative, which hopes to work with the fishing industry to find a balance that preserves both the ecosystem and fishermen's livelihoods.

Fishing boats will have to land their entire catch - whether or not the fish are in a saleable condition - according to new European Union proposals.

The Guardian reports that EU fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki has pledged to bring and end to the "nightmare of discards" in response to the high-profile campaign against the practice of fishermen dumping dead fish from their catch.

Half of all fish in the North Sea - and up to two-thirds in other areas - are thrown back under the quota system implemented under the EU's common fisheries policy.

Damanaki said that her proposed reforms to the system would be phased in over a number of years pending approval by the European parliament.

She acknowledged the concerns of fishermen, who fear the value of their catch will plummet if they are not allowed the choice of which fish to keep, but said they would benefit in the long term as ending discards would help to protect stocks of commercial fish.

Meanwhile, Irish conservation groups have joined a worldwide campaign to put the environment at the heart of the EU's fishing reforms.

The Irish Times reports that Birdwatch Ireland, Coastwatch Europe, the Irish Wildlife Trust and Irish Seal Sanctuary have all signed up to the Ocean 2012 initiative, which hopes to work with the fishing industry to find a balance that preserves both the ecosystem and fishermen's livelihoods.

Published in Fishing
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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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