Menu
Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Displaying items by tag: Northele

When Anthony and Sally O'Leary of Crosshaven quietly decided that some day they were going to make the classic 50ft 1949-vintage sloop Northele a member of their extended sailing family, it was a sort of Breakfast Epiphany. The boat had been hidden in plain sight for a while, moored in the anchorage up towards Drake's Pool, and so easily visible from their breakfast table that they tended to see her as part of the scenery. That is, until one day Northele (it's pronounced almost like "northerly") was lying with such grace in the morning sunlight that Himself was transfixed in mid-cereal, and suddenly announced: "Someday, we're going to own that boat". And Herself agreed.

But when you're Anthony and Sally O'Leary of Crosshaven, it means you're at the heart of a multi-generational family story combining the O'Leary and Aisher owner-skippering of many successful cutting-edge new boats from front-rank designers of the calibre of Charles Nicholson, Olin Stephens, Dick Carter, Ron Holland, Doug Peterson, Tony Castro, John Corby and Jason Ker.

Anthony O'Leary helming his Ker 39 Antix flat out in the RORC Easter Regatta in the SolentIn at the sharp end – Anthony O'Leary helming his Ker 39 Antix flat out in the RORC Easter Regatta in the Solent. Photo: Courtesy RORC

A very different kind of sailing. Anthony and Sally O'Leary and friends enjoying Northele's stately progressA very different kind of sailing. Anthony and Sally O'Leary and friends enjoying Northele's stately progress. Photo: Robert Bateman

Northele as she used to be in the old days, part of the scenery from Anthony & Sally O’Leary’s garden. Photo: Richard Gibson Northele as she used to be in the old days, part of the scenery from Anthony & Sally O’Leary’s garden. Photo: Richard Gibson

All of which makes it quite a step to change your sailing focus to a sweet-lined yet hefty craft more than seventy years old, designed by someone who is unknown to most sailing people. For although Northele is indeed a yacht of undoubted classic elegance, she was created by A.K. "Sandy" Balfour whose name – while immediately recognised by true connoisseurs – does not have the immediate populist cachet of Herreshoff, Fife, Mylne, Nicholson, Stephens, Rhodes or Reimers when classic yachts gather in all their gleaming glory.

But for anyone with an eye for a boat, even the briefest glimpse of Northele reveals such seemingly effortless style that you would readily accept that she was conceived by any of those very distinguished designers at the top of their form. But in addition to that, she has a certain special something which raises her above small-minded considerations of value-adding provenance.

Northele disappears into one of the Castlepoint Boatyard sheds at Crosshaven"The surgeons will see you now". Having been stripped of paint and much else, Northele disappears into one of the Castlepoint Boatyard sheds at Crosshaven. Photo: Richard Gibson

The job is on. Billy, Don and Alan Curran of Castlepoint Boatyard with Northele safely into the shed. Photo: Richard Gibson The job is on. Billy, Don and Alan Curran of Castlepoint Boatyard with Northele safely into the shed. Photo: Richard Gibson

However, it was a busy time of maybe ten years before Northele finally joined the O'Leary-Aisher fleet continuum. During it, Anthony and Sally's sons amassed international racing trophies, while Anthony himself captained two winning Irish Commodore's Cup Teams and many other national and international championships, rounding it out with his hyper-hot Antix being the RORC Yacht of the Year. Yet through all those hectic years, they kept tabs on Northele, and in 2018, the time was right, and they bought her knowing that while she looked lovelier than ever, there was more than a little TLC required.

Northele's hull profile and accommodation as they appeared in a Yachting World special Design Supplement in March 1950. Note how the propeller emerges from immediately above the rudder, and also how galley is located forwardNorthele's hull profile and accommodation as they appeared in a Yachting World special Design Supplement in March 1950. Note how the propeller emerges from immediately above the rudder, and also how galley is located forward.

In her seventy years, Northele had been around the block, and then some, for after the first owner Ronald Burton sold her, among other experiences she was in Plymouth and did a Round Britain and Ireland Race, she also found her way to the Caribbean, and then was based in the Clyde when a first Irish owner in Meath brought her to Ireland and based her in Kinsale, following which she was in Cork ownership and moored serenely at Crosshaven, waiting for Anthony and Sally O'Leary to take notice and be smitten.

We'll get all this intertwined history into its proper order in due course. Meantime, just who was Sandy Balfour? Born in Glasgow in the 1920s, after a boat-building apprenticeship with Harland & Wolff's Scottish subsidiary which included war work, his latent design talent was able to manifest itself by working with designer David Boyd at Roberston's Yard at Sandbank on the Clyde. Boyd may later have been associated with the unsuccessful America's Cup 12 Metre Sceptre, but when Balfour was with him, his boats for the International 6 Metre Class were very highly regarded, and of Olympic standard.

Yet by that time the mighty Scottish yacht design and building industry – at its height around the turn of the Century – was in marked decline, and in 1947 Balfour headed south to take up the job as manager and in-house yacht designer at Berthon Boat Company in Lymington in Hampshire. The yacht design profession – particularly in the depressed post-World War II era - was a precarious career for a sole trader, so a permanent job as yard manager, in tandem with whatever design challenges came along, provided a reasonably secure position.

Berthon Boat Company provided a very businesslike and complete service in 1949 – the final bill for Northele not only included the sails, but at £5,848-0-0 cost was significantly less than the original quote of £6861Berthon Boat Company provided a very businesslike and complete service in 1949 – the final bill for Northele not only included the sails, but at £5,848-0-0 cost was significantly less than the original quote of £6861

But the Berthon Boat Company were noted for their possessiveness towards any yacht designs which their employees created, and when the new 50ft Northele was launched in 1949, her design was clearly registered in Lloyds as being by "Berthon Boat Company". The name of A K Balfour did not appear at all, but he was undoubtedly the designer of each and every aspect of the handsome new yacht.

Everything about her was interesting, for not only did she reveal the designer's classic style, but the experienced commissioning owner was Ronald R Burton who lived on the River Hamble - also in the Solent area, but at some distance from Lymington.

His previous boat had been the Sparkman & Stephens-designed International 8 Metre Iskareen, built in Sweden in 1939. But after World War II, the International 8 Metre Class, which had been a feature of the Solent in the 1930s, had melted away. So for a more suitable boat for the times, Burton decided to go to a place which wasn't his home port despite the local proliferation of boatyards and designers on the Hamble, and get a boat from the new man just down from Scotland and working in Lymington.

Northele racing off Cowes in 1950. At 35ft waterline and 50ft LOA, she was part of a group of similarly-sized post-war boats which gave good racing inshore and offshore for several yearsNorthele racing off Cowes in 1950. At 35ft waterline and 50ft LOA, she was part of a group of similarly-sized post-war boats which gave good racing inshore and offshore for several years. Photo courtesy O'Leary family/Beken

The result was a fine yacht for which Berthon Boat Company were more than happy to claim all the credit, particularly as it was their careful saving of good timber which enabled Northele to be built at a time of post-war shortages, when quality seasoned timber was very scarce. In fact, in order to guarantee quality of construction, Northele was built to the detailed specification of the International 10 Metre Class. A proper racing 10 Metre would be approaching 60ft LOA, so when you build a cruiser-racer of 50 feet to the same spec, you get real strength and quality.

Yet despite the extra-strength construction, in her first half season of 1949 Northele won seven flags, and was frequently in the frame during the subsequent Burton years. Meanwhile, Sandy Balfour designed some other notable craft while he was with Berthon's, but it was a busy yard in all areas and much of his energy was taken up with the day-to-day work this involved, while he was also an accredited Lloyds Surveyor.

But you sense a frustrated design talent. However, a move to the Norfolk Broads to take over management of the J.Loynes & Son boatyard at Wroxham in the late 1950s was scarcely a step in the right direction. Yet deep in the heart of Norfolk, and far from his native Scotland, there came an unexpected breakthrough.

In a 1958 design competition for a 28ft boat suitable for cruising the West Coast of Scotland, his Honeybee came second. But there was something about his design that eclipsed the winning design, of which few were built, whereas Sandy Balfour's Honeybee became a hit, nowhere more so than in Germany where they were built in series production, and in 1965 declared "Yacht of the Year".

The Sandy Balfour-designed 28ft Honeybee class Ragdoll on her way to a win in a Classic Yacht RegattaThe Sandy Balfour-designed 28ft Honeybee class Ragdoll on her way to a win in a Classic Yacht Regatta. The design was and is particularly popular in Germany, where a Honeybee was "Yacht of the Year" in 1965.

Thus if you took Northele to Germany, you'd find she'd out-rank Fife and the rest of them for admiration. But for some time now, Northele hasn't been going anywhere, for after being bought by Anthony and Sally O'Leary in 2018 and sailed for a season, she disappeared into the sheds at the Curran brothers' Castlepoint Boatyard in Crosshaven in 2019, and has been undergoing a major restoration with Dick Gibson as Project Manager, with significant input from international designer Rob Jacob of Kinsale (a frequent crewmate with Anthony O'Leary in many racing campaigns), and with the hands-on talent of Billy, Don and Alan Curran of Castlepoint being augmented by classics specialist such as Jim Walsh of Nohoval Boat Works and Mark Bushe of the legendary Crosshaven boat-building family.

Work in progress – Northele as she is now in the shed in Crosshaven with the topside planking replaced, and much work done withinWork in progress – Northele as she is now in the shed in Crosshaven with the topside planking replaced, and much work done within. Photo: Robert Bateman

It was Mark who was a pioneer in classic restoration down Crosshaven way when he brought the Cork Harbour One Design Elsie back to life. It was an interesting experience, for he and his workmates learned that there's nothing so interesting for sailing people in the winter as watching craftsmen restore a classic. So on Friday afternoons in particular, they found their work was so constantly interrupted by curious and chatty homeward-bound visitors – all with an expert opinion – that they hung an empty tin on a piece of wire from Elsie's stemhead with "Beer Money" clearly written on it, and if little enough work got done after mid-afternoon Friday, a least that night's pints paid for themselves.

But restoring a complex 50-footer to an international standard is on a different scale altogether, and thus the Northele shed is definitely not on the Crosshaven tourist trail, because it's difficult enough to concentrate without distraction on how the designer and builders of seventy years ago managed to fit so much into such a slim yet deep hull, and at the same time working out how you can fit work-aids such as electric winches (the sails are enormous) in some very confined spaces, while retaining the character of the boat, for the owners are determined to stick to the original Balfour plan, even down to retaining the forward location of the galley.

Today's high volume boats provide builders with much more space for machinery, equipment and fittings. In Northele, the slightly offset but still virtually centre-line propellor shaft exits the hull close alongside the rudder stock to a propeller in clear water above the rudderToday's high volume boats provide builders with much more space for machinery, equipment and fittings. In Northele, the slightly offset but still virtually centre-line propellor shaft exits the hull close alongside the rudder stock to a propeller in clear water above the rudder. Photo: Robert Bateman

The quality work already done within is seen in this view looking aft, which gives added insight into the challenge of fitting the propeller shaft close beside and above the rudder.The quality work already done within is seen in this view looking aft, which gives added insight into the challenge of fitting the propeller shaft close beside and above the rudder. Photo: Robert Bateman

As a preliminary, the boat had been completely stripped of paint when she arrived in the Castlepoint shed, and most thought she looked reasonably okay, particularly as she has had previous restorations, and her underwater hull planking had been replaced with top quality Burmese teak. But some picking at the topsides with their mahogany planking soon became excavation work which revealed some very badly corroded fastenings which, in the worst cases, had been hidden away under graving pieces. So all the topside planking had to come off and it has been replaced with double-skin iroko. This is not a job that gets completed in a month or two, but has the bonus of adding to Northele's strength.

The interior looking forward – the key structures in the bilge and beside the garboards have all been renewed or re-galvanisedThe interior looking forward – the key structures in the bilge and beside the garboards have all been renewed or re-galvanised. Photo: Robert Bateman

Severely corroded fastenings were found hidden behind shiny exterior -  the sourcing of authentic replacements has been a specialist jobSeverely corroded fastenings were found hidden behind shiny exterior - the sourcing of authentic replacements has been a specialist job. Photo: Richard Gibson

They also had to renew the complete breastplate or stem, running right down to the garboard area, and this was constructed in laminated iroko. All metal strengthening frames attached on to wooden frames were removed and re-galvanized, while all-new laminated iroko frames were fitted where necessary, and any necessary all-new ribs too.

The deck beams forward and aft were all renewed with laminated iroko, while any all-metal strengthening plates to deck and hull were replaced with Marine Grade 316 Stainless Steel. A new sub-deck of top grade marine ply, epoxied both sides, will be finished new Burmese teak classic laid deck.

The first stages of replacing the deck forward gave a real sense of progress being madeThe first stages of replacing the deck forward gave a real sense of progress being made……. Photo: Robert Bateman

the view on deck looking aft shows how much has been done, it also indicates the amount still to be done in a job of this quality…….but while the view on deck looking aft shows how much has been done, it also indicates the amount still to be done in a job of this quality. Photo: Robert Bateman

At the hidden heart of things, all major fastenings made of bronze had to be replaced through specialist suppliers, while the customized long copper nails were sourced through a manufacturer in France, apparently, the only foundry left in Europe doing this kind of one-off item.

Above the hull, the re-usability of the classic wooden mast had already been a matter of debate when the unusually long old spar made the decision for them by breaking at a scarf while being lowered to the hard after lifting out, so a completely new mast is on its way from Collars in the heart of England. Collars started in business in 1932 making lightweight oars for rowing sculls, which is something they still do, but they've long since branched out to become the go-to people for classic wooden spars.

Dick Gibson showing how the over-worn topside planking has been replaced by double-skin irokoDick Gibson showing how the over-worn topside planking has been replaced by double-skin iroko. Photo: Robert Bateman

A classic like Northele looks best when the tack of her genoa goes as near to the deck as possible, so the electric roller-furler for the genoa is fitted beneath the deck in the stemhead, where they've just about found the space. But further on down the stem internally, there just isn't room to fit a bow thruster which would be in keeping with the style of the boat.

So handling in confined spaces under power will be something of a sport in itself, for in the style of her era, Northele has a propeller which operates in clear water, as its shaft exits the hull close above the rudder and even closer beside the rudder stock. It means that things are rather crowded down aft there, immediately astern of the auxiliary engine. And it also means there's none of that direct prop thrust on the rudder for confined-space manoeuvrability which modern boat-owners take for granted. But as Northele's owners are going to keep her on the mooring where they first fell in love with the boat, the dignified slow-turning progress of a stately yacht under what is emphatically just auxiliary power will be their mode of progress back to the home berth, where a long-handled pickup buoy will make things easier at the end of the day.

The new plans by Rob Jacob showing how the deck layout will retain the character of the original boat while providing greater ease of handling. Note how the under-deck location of the genoa roller furler facilitates a stylish deck-sweeping sail at the tackThe new plans by Rob Jacob showing how the deck layout will retain the character of the original boat while providing greater ease of handling. Note how the under-deck location of the genoa roller furler facilitates a stylish deck-sweeping sail at the tack.

Even with the latest CAD equipment, there's still nothing to beat an on-site meeting – Rob Jacob and Alan Curran discussing solutionsEven with the latest CAD equipment, there's still nothing to beat an on-site meeting – Rob Jacob and Alan Curran discussing solutions. Photo: Dick Gibson

You'd be hard put to say exactly what the word is to describe the process which Northele is undergoing. And for peace of mind, you'd be well advised not to get into a discussion with any dyed-in-the-wool classic yacht aficionado and expert on the topic, for friendships have been sundered over it.

Obviously, it's not a Re-build. Yet "Restoration" doesn't seem quite adequate. Perhaps Re-generation might do, for the work in progress has not only seen the resurfacing of classic Crosshaven and Kinsale skills, but it has productively brought together longtime shipmates who have sailed many a sea together and know how boats should work, and it has also brought together workmates who were involved in the building of such legends as Golden Apple, Irish Mist and Moonduster, brought together many years later in a shared project which has an almost sacred quality to it.

And at the heart of it is this one masterpiece by Sandy Balfour. Anthony O'Leary is one of the most thoughtful of sailors, and it was fascinating to hear him compare helming his last frontline racer, the red Antix, with sailing Northele. "With Antix, if you weren't right on the edge with everything humming, then you weren't really at the races at all. But with Northele, you just go with her. She may be a powerful boat, but it all seems so sweet and gentle, and she's been there before."

the timeless elegance and proper engineering quality of the classic turn of the bilges in the Sandy Balfour-designed Northele at Crosshaven Many miles sailed, many more to sail……the timeless elegance and proper engineering quality of the classic turn of the bilges in the Sandy Balfour-designed Northele at Crosshaven. Photo: Robert Bateman

Published in W M Nixon
Tagged under

If you were putting together a pub quiz about classic yachts, “Who was Sandy Balfour?” would be a very handy question to get the elementary section going writes W M Nixon.

Dyed-in-the-wool classics aficionados would roll their eyes in amusement at being asked something to which surely everyone knows the answer, contemptuously regarding it as an ignorant query about someone who, while not prolific, was an important creator of significant yachts with their own signature style.

But for those whose knowledge of the great classic designers is limited to the headline figures such as Watson, Fife, Herreshoff, Nicholson, Mylne, Reimers, Anker, Stephens and Rhodes, A K “Sandy” Balfour is probably off the screen.

Yet those who do have classic yachts from Balfour’s design board develop a very special fondness for their pride-and-joy. And this season, top Crosshaven racing campaigner Anthony O’Leary has become one of them with the acquisition of the 50ft Northele, a Balfour design of 1949 vintage.

She has been around Cork Harbour for some years now, but it was no secret, when she was put on the market, that a long winter of TLC in a skilled yard would in time be required to restore her complete and glorious classic potential. That particular project is going to be undertaken this winter in Castle Point Boatyard. But for now, Northele sits elegantly in style in full commission in Crosshaven, dressed overall in honour of Volvo Cork Week while her owner goes at it hammer and tongs in the 1720 racing.

northele sailing2New owner Anthony O’Leary finds Northele is the kind of boat that restores your joy in sailing. Photo: Robert Bateman

So who was Sandy Balfour? Born in Glasgow, after a boat-building apprenticeship with Harland & Wolff’s Scottish subsidiary, his latent design talent was able to manifest itself by working with designer David Boyd at Roberston’s Yard at Sandbank on the Clyde. Boyd may later have been associated with the unsuccessful America’s Cup 12 Metre Sceptre, but when Balfour was with him, his boats for the International 6 Metre Class were very highly regarded

Yet by that time the mighty Scottish yacht design and building industry – at its height around the turn of the Century – was in marked decline, and in 1947 Balfour headed south to take up the job as manager and in-house yacht designer at Berthon Boat Company in Lymington in Hampshire. The yacht design profession – particularly in the depressed post-World War II era - was a precarious career for a sole trader, so a permanent job as yard manager, in tandem with whatever design challenges came along, provided a reasonably secure position.

But the Berthon Boat Company were noted for their possessiveness towards any yacht designs which their employees produced, and when the new 50ft Northele was launched in 1949, her design was clearly registered in Lloyds as being by “Builders”. The name of A K Balfour did not appear at all, but he was undoubtedly the designer of each and every aspect of the handsome new yacht.

northele sailing3The sensibly wide and only very slightly cambered side decks (above and below) are a positive user-friendly feature of Northele’s design. Photos: Robert Bateman

northele sailing4

Everything about her was interesting, for not only did she reveal the designer’s classic style, but the experienced commissioning owner was Ronald R Burton who lived on the River Hamble - also in the Solent area, but at some distance from Lymington.

His previous boat had been the Sparkman & Stephens-designed International 8 Metre Iskareen, built in Sweden in 1939. But after World War II, the International 8 Metre Class, which had been a feature of the Solent in the 1930s, had melted away. So for a more suitable boat for the times, Burton decided to go to a place which wasn’t his home port despite the local proliferation of boatyards and designers on the Hamble, and get a boat from the new man just down from Scotland and working in Lymington.

The result was a fine yacht for which Berthon Boat Company were more than happy to claim all the credit, particularly as it was their careful saving of good timber which enabled Northele to be built at a time of post-war shortages, when quality seasoned timber was very scarce. In fact, in order to guarantee quality of construction, Northele was built to the detailed specification of the International 10 Metre Class. A proper racing 10 Metre would be approaching 60ft LOA, so when you build a cruiser-racer of 50 feet to the same spec, you get real strength and quality.

northele sailing5Even in a fleet of newer boats, Northele soon shows ahead of the pack. Photo: Robert Bateman

Sandy Balfour designed some other notable craft while he was with Berthon’s, but it was a busy yard in all areas and much of his energy was taken up with the day-to-day work this involved, while he was also an accredited Lloyds Surveyor. You sense a frustrated design talent. But a move to the Norfolk Broads to take over management of the J.Loynes & Son boatyard at Wroxham in the late 1950s was scarcely a step in the right direction, yet deep in the heart of Norfolk, and far from his native Scotland, there came an unexpected breakthrough.

In 1958, the Clyde Cruising Club, in association with the Glasgow Herald newspaper, launched a competition for an able sailing cruiser to cost not more than £1,000, a boat around 28ft which could comfortably take four people cruising at reasonable speeds and better off Scotland’s West Coast and through the Hebrides.

In the end, two transom-sterned designs – one by Sandy Balfour and the other by leading Burnham-on-Crouch-based independent designer Alan Buchanan – were assessed as being more or less equal on merit. But it was reckoned that Balfour’s Honeybee design would have difficulty staying within budget, so the result was Buchanan first, Balfour second.

Yet very few boats were to be built to the Buchanan design, but the Honeybee took off, with several builders producing many, the most prolific being a German company. And with each boat, A K Balfour was the properly accredited designer.

The Honeybee’s success makes you wonder how many other yachts of all sizes Sandy Balfour might have created, had circumstances been different. So as you cast an eye over the elegant and highly individual Northele sitting so gracefully in Crosshaven, remember that she is doubly precious – she is one of the few creations of a designer of a great but largely unfulfilled talent.

honeybee sailing6The Sandy Balfour-designed Honeybee Ragdoll on her way to a class victory in the Panerai British Classics Regatta. This successful design of 1958 proved to be particularly popular in Germany. Photo Fiona Brown

Published in Historic Boats
Tagged under

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

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Associations

ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Events 2021

vdlr21 sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
quantum sidebutton
watson sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
https://afloat.ie/resources/marine-industry-news/viking-marine

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
wavelengths sidebutton
 

Please show your support for Afloat by donating