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The Irish public believes more action needs to be taken to improve the health of the ocean, according to results from Ireland’s first Ocean Citizen Survey.

More than 1,000 people across the island of Ireland completed the Ocean Citizen Survey in 2020 and shared their views on current marine issues and priorities for the protection of the marine environment. The online survey was developed by the Marine Institute and the European Commission to encourage the people of Ireland to contribute to the EU Mission for Healthy Oceans, Seas, Coastal and Inland Waters.

92% of survey respondents strongly agreed that more action needs to be taken to improve the health of the ocean. The respondents strongly agreed (85%) that human actions are damaging the ocean and that the health of the ocean and their own health is connected (67%).

"89% thought the establishment of a European Ocean Agency was a good idea"

“The Irish public care strongly about the ocean and are important stakeholders in planning for its future,” said Dr Niall McDonough, Director of Policy, Innovation and Research Support at the Marine Institute. “It is valuable to have a current understanding of the Irish public’s perceptions and concerns which can be used to inform future research activities associated with these initiatives and policy developments in Ireland, and in Europe.”

The survey also asked the public which 15 marine environmental issues they were most concerned about, and ‘pollution at the coast or in the sea’ was the issue that was most frequently selected amongst the top three. From 14 suggested climate change and marine policy issues, the policy area that was selected the most frequently by the respondents amongst their top three for prioritisation by the European Union was ‘regulating the production, use and disposal of plastic to reduce marine plastic pollution’.

Survey results also indicate that 67% of respondents strongly agreed that economic growth and job generation can be supported by the ocean, seas and inland waters.

Outputs from the Ocean Citizen Survey will be used to inform the preparation of the next National Marine Research and Innovation Strategy, which will commence later this year. Citizen participation is also an important component of the forthcoming Horizon Europe Framework Programme, spanning 2021 to 2027. The information from this survey will feed into the further planning of the Mission on Healthy Oceans, Seas, Inland and Coastal Waters.

Dr McDonough added, “Citizens are crucial to the design and accomplishment of the EU Mission in helping to set objectives and targets and ensuring that missions like this one, make a real difference in everybody’s lives.”

The full report from Ireland’s Ocean Citizen Survey can be viewed online here

Key Findings from Ireland’s Ocean Citizen Survey:

  • 85% strongly agreed that human actions are damaging the ocean.
  • 92% strongly agreed that more action needs to be taken to improve the health of the ocean.
  • 67% strongly agreed that the health of the ocean and their own health is connected.
  • 67% strongly agreed that the ocean can support economic growth and job creation.
  • 61% said marine pollution was one of their biggest concerns.
  • 42% said ‘regulating the production, use and disposal of plastic to reduce marine plastic pollution’ is an issue to be prioritised by the European Union.
  • 88% strongly agreed that marine environmental data collection is important.
  • 46% consider that a high-resolution map of the ocean seabed is very important to society.
  • 89% thought the establishment of a European Ocean Agency was a good idea.
Published in Marine Science
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Combined impacts of sea-level rise, intensification of maritime transport, depletion of coastal ecosystems and deep-sea mining are the theme of a new exhibition planned for the Italian city of Venice which aims to change the conversation about the ocean environment writes Lorna Siggins.

A projected image of Venice in the year 2050 if the global community lives up to the 2016 Paris Agreement forms part of the exhibition, opening in the Spring.

There are predictions that combined sea-level rise and land subsidence will flood the city built on 118 small islands entirely by the year 2100.

Effects of overfishing, bottom trawling, oil exploration and extraction, migration, changing ocean circulations, militarisation and melting ice are also traced by the research project, Territorial Agency, which is hosting the exhibition.

Bathymetry and fishing data from the “black Atlantic”, as in mid-Atlantic, the impact of shipping activity and oil licensing, and a multibeam sonar sounding of Reykjanes Ridge in the Atlantic are among images commissioned for the project.

It also draws on multi-beam sonar data for a view of the Pacific ocean floor, off the coast of Hawaii.

Other images include scenarios of sea-level rise overlaid on the rapid depletion of the coastal ecosystems of the Mississippi delta in the USA, the impact of rapid urbanisation in China on the Yangtze River plume near Shanghai, and fishing and trans-shipment data near the Nazca-Desventuradas marine park off of the coast of Chile.

Territorial Agency was founded by Ann-Sofi Rönnskog and John Palmesino as an independent organisation. It states that it combines “architecture, spatial analysis, advocacy and action” to influence change in the inhabited environment.

The project was informed and “catalysed” by sea-level rise, as the most visible sign of climate change, but investigates the changes in world oceans during the current geological era known as the Anthropocene.

It assesses latest scientific knowledge, based on a consensus that less than 20 per cent of ocean floors have been mapped, to emphasise the critical role of oceans in the planet’s survival.

“The oceans are changing very fast, yet knowledge of them is moving slowly and is enveloped in long-established forms of cultural separation and distinction between human activities at land and at sea,” they state, arguing that “this division needs to be rethought to address the urgent and vast transformations that the seas are undergoing”.

Oceans in Transformation, as the large scale multi-media exhibition is called,“rearranges the maritime space as a stage for human violence, empire and colonial history”.

The organisers will host parallel discussions with key players in environmental conversations and research, including scientists, artists, governmental and society groups, policymakers and conservationists.

The research project is Oceans in Transformation,  is led by the architecture team "Territorial Agency’" The exhibition will take place at Ocean Space, Venice, from March 2020, and it is organised and commissioned by TBA21-Academy. 

Published in Marine Science
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#offshore – Skippering a yacht on an ocean going passage is a serious undertaking requiring significant skills and experience. Getting those skills and experience has always been tricky and every year the rescue services are called out to assist yachts and skippers that have gone beyond their means.

Previously, a skipper looking to build ocean-going experience has had few options other than to join a delivery yacht or maybe crew on the ARC. This gave mileage and some experience, but was no substitute for expert tuition from ocean-going instructors.

To fill this skills gap, a UK sailing school operator, Rubicon 3 has launched a series of three Ocean Crossing Masterclasses, running between October and December 2015.

Based on Rubicon 3's specialised 60' expedition sailing yacht, each masterclass comprises an intensive two weeks of tuition at sea, taught by two instructors. The syllabus has been developed from their skippers' huge experience of expedition and ocean sailing and is a mix of practical and theoretical lessons on how to skipper a boat across an ocean. Every day sees a structured lesson plan, with all critical skills covered. These include route planning; weather routing; yacht preparation; fixes of common problems at sea; celestial navigation and heavy weather techniques, including practical demonstrations of storm sails, tri-sails, drogues and storm boards.

These masterclasses are open to everyone, with ten places on board each one. There are watch leader positions on each masterclass ideally suited for those looking to gain their RYA Ocean Yachtmaster qualifying passage.

Bruce Jacobs, director of the company said, "It's critically important that before skippering a yacht far offshore, you have the practical skills and experience to match your theory. Whether it's how and when to deploy a tri-sail, or conditions are getting nasty and it's time to launch a drogue - the first time you do it should not be the time you really need it. These masterclasses are the very best way to prepare yourself to skipper offshore and to vastly widen your cruising range."

Masterclass dates, routes & prices

Bristol, UK - Baiona, Portugal: October 18 - November 1, 2015. £1,395
Baiona - Madeira - Azores: November 7 - 22, 2015. £1,495
Azores - Madeira - Gibraltar: November 28 - December 13, 2015. £1,495

Published in Sailing Schools
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#ROWING – Ocean rower Aodhan Kelly is travelling the opposite direction to the one he expected this morning – but he is reported to be safe and well after a tumultous 24 hours. The Dubliner and the five other men in the crew of the Sara G were hoping to set a new record for rowing across the Atlantic from Morocco to Barbados, but they capsized at 11 am yesterday 520 miles from their destination.

The six men stayed in a life-raft t until rescued by the cargo ship the Nord Taipei. The 32,000 tonne craft is continuing on to Gibraltar and is due to arrive on February 9th.

Sara-G

The Sara–G at the start of her now ill-fated journey

The Sara G crew, headed up by the experienced skipper Matt Craughwell, were initally hoping to break what they called the “four-minute mile” of ocean rowing by crossing the Atlantic in under 30 days. But winds and sea conditions were much tougher than expected. They had battled on bravely, with the aim of setting a new record but it all went awry on the 27th day of the row.

The present World Record is held by the 2011 crew of the Sara G - including Craughwell and Irishmen Rob Byrne and Adam Burke – who travelled from Morrocco to Barbados in 33 days 21 hours and 46 minutes in 2011. The Hallin Marine had the shortest crossing, travelling from Tenerife to Barbados in 2011 in 31 days 23 hours and 31 minutes in 2011, but because the distance is shorter the Sara G was deemed the World Record holder by the Ocean Rowing Society.

Kelly, a 26 year old from Palmerstown in Dublin, learned his rowing with Neptune rowing club in Islandbridge for whom he won eight national titles, seven junior and one intermediate. In recent years he has been living and working in Reading in England.

Published in Rowing

#SANYA– Definitely not as intended but neverthless on her way to Cape Town as our picture shows. The Discover Ireland backed Sanya entry in the Volvo Ocean Race has been successfully repaired and is ready to joing the other six yachts in the fleet. The 70-foot yacht suffered hull damage only hours into the race. Still to arrive is Puma, the third boat in the fleet to have suffered damage in the first leg.

first sighting1

Afloat again and heading for Capetown. Team Sanya is repaired and spotted on a cargo ship

 

Published in Volvo Ocean Race
#DISMAST–PUMA has suffered a broken mast on the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, which began 17 days ago from Alicante, Spain. The crew are unhurt. Only 3 of the six starters are now left on the first leg of the race, Abu Dhabi and Team Sanya already out with spar and hull failures respectively.

 The rig onboard PUMA's Mar Mostro failed at around 15:00 UTC in the southern Atlantic Ocean, about 2,150 nautical miles from Cape Town, South Africa.

puma

Puma crew try to retrieve the broken rig. Photo: Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race

Skipper Ken read reported: "We were sailing on a port tack, beam reaching in 22-23 knots of breeze, heading east northeast with eight to 10 foot waves when the mast failed. There were no warning signs.

"There was no panic onboard, and all crew are safe and well.

"Thanks to amazing seamanship, the three pieces of the mast and all of the sails were recovered. We haven't suspended racing at this point and are weighing up our options.

"At this point we are not using our engine, but are taking some time to clear our heads and evaluate next steps. Our plans may include heading to the island of Tristan da Cunha – about 700 nautical miles from us, nearly on the way to Cape Town.

"This is the saddest and most disappointed 11 people on earth. We were in a comfortable second position, traveling south to get into the final front and head across the southern Atlantic towards Cape Town.

"We were planning to be there in five days. At this stage, my goal is to make sure we get this crew back safely and we will look at options as to how to get back in this race."

The Brazilian search and rescue organization have been informed and are on standby to assist if necessary.

PUMA Ocean Racing's shore team is working on a recovery plan to ensure the yacht can rejoin the race as soon as practically possible and will work closely with Volvo Ocean Race to determine the cause of the dismasting.

Volvo Ocean Race control is in constant contact with the team to establish the full extent of the damage and ensure the crew are given full support to enable them to deal with the situation.

The causes of the dismasting are not known at this stage. However, the rig is of a different origin and manufacture to that of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's Azzam which suffered a failure earlier during Leg 1.

Further information will be issued as it becomes available.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race
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#VOLVO OCEAN RACE – As plans progress to celebrate the end of the Volvo Ocean Sailing Race in Galway next June Heineken has won the pouring rights and the brewer is expecting to serve over one and a half million people during the course of the event.

They're expecting to attract over 200,000 people per day, for each of the eight days. The world race concludes with an In-Port Race and Pro-Am Race and the Prize Giving Ceremony. Thirsty work? Here's hoping!  And Here's Heineken's promo video courtesy of youtube with VOR racer Jerry Kirby comparing the last Galway stopver to 'Woodstock'.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race
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#ABU DHABI DISMASTING – "I knew there were going to be problems because my feet left the deck" skipper Ian Walker  describes the moment of impact when his Abu Dhabi yacht hit a huge wave and lost its mast in the first hours of the Volvo Ocean Race. The team is back in port and are attempting to rebuild the mast and get going again. Hear the latest from an understandibly emotional Ian Walker dockside here:

Puma Skipper Ken Read heard about the dismasting and has chimed in with his take on the disaster, calling it a 'curse' for winning the first In-Port Race in the Volvo, which Abu Dhabi did.

Two races ago Ericsson won the first In-Port only to have keel ram problems and limped into Cape Horn. Last edition, Telefonica Blue won the first In-Port only to break part of their rudder assembly about an hour into the race and had to go in to port to fix it. Now Abu Dhabi.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

#VOLVO OCEAN RACE – Ireland's Minister of the Marine Simon Coveney jumped ship on Saturday but it was no political volte face instead it was the expediency of Team Sanya's Captain Mike Sanderson who jettisoned the Fine Gael Cabinet Minister shortly after the start of the Volvo Ocean Race in Alicante.

coveney

Minister Simon Coveney (left) and Sailing Anarchy Editor Alan Block in good spirits after going overboard from Team Sanya. Photo: Anders Soranio

Onboard Sanya guests for the start on Sanya included Coveney, a racing sailor himself, and Alan Block, Editor of Sailing Anarchy website. After the inshore couple of laps, they had to brave the elements and jump off the boat into the water and both ended up safely on Sanya's team rib.

As it turns out there was no rush and the guests could have sailed on with the Chineses entry. Within hours Sanderson was heading back to shore after suffering hull damage that looks like it's going to take a while to fix.

Coveney got the VIP seat for the race start because Discover Ireland is backing the Team Sanya entry for 25% of the campaign costs. The VOR finishes in Galway next July.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race
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#VOLVO OCEAN RACE – 24 hours in to the Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) and the fleet is reduced by one third. First Abu Dhabi was dismasted and now news is coming ashore that Team Sanya has suffered hull damage and is heading back for landfall.

Aksel Magdahl, Navigator on-board Team Sanya reported this morning had suffered hull damage on the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, which began yesterday in Alicante.

The yacht is 25% backed by Irish tourism body Discover Ireland. The damage happened just 24 hours after Ireland's Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney left the boat shorly after the start of the race.

Mike Sanderson, Skipper has confirmed to Volvo Ocean Race Control that "The situation is very much under control, everyone is obviously disappointed but in good spirits as all are safe on-board," he said.

The boat was approximately 30 nautical miles SE of Motril, on the coast of Spain. The wind was blowing 43 plus knots and the waves were around 10.5 metres.

The watertight doors had already been closed as a precaution due to the prevailing conditions and the boat is making its way to Puerto de Motril. After entering flat water, Team Sanya has suspended racing.

Volvo Ocean Race control is in constant contact with the team while establishing the full extent of the damage so that the crew are given full support to enable them to deal with the situation.

Team Sanya's shore team are working on a recovery plan to ensure the yacht can rejoin the Volvo Ocean Race as soon as practically possible.

1300 hours Sunday: Mike Sanderson, CEO/Skipper of Team Sanya, updates us on the latest situation and his thoughts:

So close to making it through the worst of the big breeze and then disaster struck. We were looking after the boat nicely when at approx 0900 this morning while going upwind in 35 knots of wind, suddenly the boat went really bow down and immediately we knew it wasn't good. Instantly we slowed the boat right down, got the remainder of the guys in their bunks into life jackets and then set about tacking over to head for shelter.

The water tight bulkhead is doing a great job, the pumps are running and we are nursing the boat with just a double reefed mainsail into port.

Right now we have no idea how major the damage is, we can however see a puncture wound on the port side and streams of carbon peeling off so it isn't good. We are all safe though, as I write this we are just an hour from a safe harbour. The guys are doing a fantastic job, all very positive and working incredibly hard even though you can see the bitter disappointment on all their faces.

Be under no illusion though, we will be back with vengeance.

I will let you all know as soon as we have checked our poor boat out in a few hours...

Published in Volvo Ocean Race
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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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