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Minister for Environment Eamon Ryan says that offshore wind generators will be required to make “substantial annual contributions” to community benefit funds.

He says that coastal and marine communities will “benefit significantly from offshore renewable electricity projects” as a result.

He says that a key feature of a new framework, known as the “Community Benefit Fund Rulebook for Generators and Fund Administrators”, is that generators must start making contributions from the early stages of the offshore wind project – as in prior to beginning operation.

“This means that coastal and marine communities could start to benefit from as early as 2025 and could look forward to receiving benefits for up to 25 years in total,”he says.

Community Benefit Fund Rulebook for Generators and Fund Administrators is published on the Dept website. Link belowCommunity Benefit Fund Rulebook for Generators and Fund Administrators

Contributions to these funds will be determined by the amount of energy generated, with €2 required to be paid for every MWh of electricity generated over the lifetime of the support period, he says.

Given the anticipated high levels of offshore generation, the amounts involved are expected to be very substantial — approximately €4 million per annum from a typical 500MW offshore wind project, and almost €20 million per annum from all projects expected to deploy via the first auction for offshore wind under the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (ORESS 1), he says.

The community benefit fund procedure has been collaboratively developed following extensive consultation with communities and industry, he says.

He says the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) will be providing a critical role in the monitoring and compliance of the funds.

The first offshore competition under the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (ORESS 1) was launched last November.

“ORESS auctions in the coming years will procure further offshore wind capacity to reach our 2030 target of 7GW, while also maintaining community benefit provisions to ensure that hosting communities continue to benefit from the enormous potential of offshore renewable energy,”he said.

“Local coastal and marine communities will play a central role in facilitating and supporting the development of Ireland’s offshore renewable electricity ambitions as a vital component in meeting Ireland’s commitments under the 2023 Climate Action Plan,”he said.

“ In addition to the jobs, opportunities and business off-shore wind will help generate on-shore, this community benefit fund, built into the off-shore programme, ensures that community life and fabric more broadly can also be enhanced and supported,”he says.

The community benefit fund rulebook sets out the basis of the working relationship between each generator and the professional fund administrator it must appoint to undertake the implementation of the fund for their respective projects, he says.

It provides details on how each fund must be established and conducted to be properly representative of the local community, including fishers, seafood culture, tourism, the wider blue economy, and maritime heritage. The fund administrator will undertake the day-to-day operation of the fund on behalf of the local community, while decision-making on the allocation of funds remains within the community itself, he says.

Further information is available here.

Published in Power From the Sea
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Ocean Winds and Bord na Móna has launched a major new offshore wind partnership at an event with Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment in Dublin.

The partnership brings together leading international offshore wind energy expert Ocean Winds (OW) with Bord na Móna, one of Ireland’s oldest semi-states working at the forefront of energy technology, to combine their efforts in leveraging Ireland’s offshore wind power resources.

The long-term, exclusive partnership will see Ocean Winds and Bord na Móna co-own, identify and develop offshore wind energy opportunities around the coast of Ireland.

The joint venture initially incorporates two potential projects, Réalt na Mara, off the coast of Dublin and Wicklow, and Celtic Horizon, off the coast of Wexford and Waterford. Engagement on both projects with local communities, stakeholders and the fishing industry is currently underway. The projects have the potential to generate up to 2.3 GW Gigawatts (GW) of clean and renewable electricity to power up to 2.1 million homes by 2030. By reducing Ireland’s reliance on gas and oil it will also help safeguard Irish communities from global energy price fluctuations.

Grzegorz Gorski, COO of Ocean Winds with Bord na Móna Chief Executive Tom Donnellan and Bautista Rodríguez, Chief Executive Officer Ocean Winds. Photo: Jason ClarkeGrzegorz Gorski, COO of Ocean Winds with Bord na Móna Chief Executive Tom Donnellan and Bautista Rodríguez, Chief Executive Officer Ocean Winds. Photo: Jason Clarke

The collaboration marks a significant step forward for Bord na Móna’s commitment to developing clean energy resources. This offshore wind joint venture will specifically support Ireland achieve target of 7GW of installed offshore wind capacity by 2030.

Ocean Winds, energy leaders ENGIE and EDPR’s joint venture dedicate to offshore wind energy, brings a track record of experience to help develop the offshore renewable industry in Ireland, with a current portfolio of 14 offshore wind farms in 7 countries, with a 14.6 GW of gross capacity, including 1.5 GW already in operation.

Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment commented, “The Irish Government recognises our geographic and climate advantages in terms of wind energy and is developing public policy proposals to support this. This joint venture is a momentous step towards our commitment to produce most of our electricity from renewable sources – up to 80% – by 2030. It also marks a new chapter in Bord na Móna’s 90-year history in supplying energy to local communities across the island. Ocean Winds’ international expertise and record of accomplishment is supporting Ireland to increase its offshore wind capacity. I look forward to this partnership helping to ensure a secure, sustainable, and cost-effective energy future for Ireland.”

Ossian Smyth, Minister of State with responsibility for Public Procurement and eGovernment at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said, “Today’s launch is a significant step for Bord na Móna in terms of their transition to a leading climate solutions company and supporting and delivering Ireland’s objective, to become carbon neutral by 2050. Ireland, and indeed Bord na Móna, has a great track record of building on shore, now we prove our capabilities offshore. Between creating employment, and providing secure, sustainable and cheaper electricity - the scale and potential benefit to our country is beyond compare. Bord na Móna is repeatedly proving itself to be very much “More than Móna”.

Also speaking at the launch, Grzegorz Gorski, COO of Ocean Winds said, “Ocean Winds is delighted to announce this joint venture today with Bord na Móna which we believe is the perfect pairing of our international expertise with Bord na Móna’s long history working in local communities in Ireland. We look forward to forging a long-term relationship with Bord na Móna to support Ireland in its bid to harness its natural wind resources for a cleaner and more sustainable energy future.”

Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment speaking at the Ocean Winds and Bord na Móna new offshore wind partnershipLeo Varadkar, Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment speaking at the Ocean Winds and Bord na Móna new offshore wind partnership

He added, “By working closely with local stakeholders OW aims to bring together communities and to support their development through ongoing engagement and investment with more than a decade’s experience, OW has a strong track record of using our strength as global leaders in the renewables sector to create opportunities for local companies who want to expand and diversify into the emerging offshore wind sector.”

Bord na Móna Chief Executive Tom Donnellan said “Today we are making a giant leap forward towards energy independence for Ireland. Bord na Móna has always been a cornerstone of Irish energy security. We have been developing renewable energy infrastructure since the early 1990s working with communities to deliver a range of lasting local and regional benefits. Ocean Winds bring an incredible wealth of experience in developing and delivering offshore energy from around the globe. Together we will ensure that Ireland’s vast untapped reservoir of offshore energy will be harnessed for the good of Irish society, the economy and the planet. The projects we will develop will be of such a large scale that Ireland will be able to rely on Irish energy sources and massively reduce dependence on foreign pollutants including gas and oil”.

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Offshore wind farms will be affected by a new EU council regulation to ensure "windfall gains" from the energy sector.

The Government says it has decided to place a cap on all market revenues of non-gas electricity generators, whereby excess revenues will be “collected and used to support electricity consumers”.

Proceeds could range from around €300 million to €1.9 billion, through the cap on market revenues and a “temporary solidarity contribution” from fossil fuel companies, it estimates.

The cap on market revenues from December of this year to June of next year will apply to non-gas electricity generators with a capacity of 1 MW or more, and involves:

  • a cap of €120 per MWh for wind and solar;
  • a cap of at least €180 per MWh for oil-fired and coal-fired generation;
  • a cap of €180 per MWh on other non-gas generation

“The Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to unprecedented increases in wholesale natural gas prices, impacting the prices paid by consumers, but also leading to windfall gains in some areas of the energy sector,” Minister for Environment Eamon Ryan said.

“The agreement of the EU Council Regulation and the Government’s approval on its implementation will ensure that windfall gains will be collected and redistributed to support energy consumers,” he said.

The €120 per MWh cap for wind and solar takes into account the revenues generators would have expected to earn prior to the increase in gas prices, which was less than €100 per MWh, and the limited increase in costs incurred by these generators, his department says.

“It should also be noted that where electricity suppliers can demonstrate that revenues in excess of the cap are being passed on through lower prices to final consumers, those revenues will not be subject to the cap,”the department says.

“ The cap on market revenues will operate from December 2022 to June 2023 inclusive, as set out in the Council Regulation,”it says.

The Government says has also decided to implement the “temporary solidarity contribution”, as set out in the Council Regulation, to companies which are active in fossil fuel production and refining for the years 2022 and 2023.

This “ temporary solidarity contribution” is based on the portion of a company’s taxable profits which are more than 20% higher than a baseline, it says

“ The baseline will be the average taxable profits for the company for the period 2018 to 2021. Losses from previous years will not be taken into account in the calculation of the taxable profits in temporary solidarity contribution or the baseline,”Ryan’s department says.

“Taxable profits which are more than 20% above the baseline will be subject to the temporary solidarity contribution at a rate of 75%,” it says.

“ This will lead to an effective rate of 0% for windfall gains of up to 20%, an effective rate of 50% for windfall gains of 60%* and an effective rate of 60% for windfall gains of 100% (i.e. where profits have doubled),”it says.

“Given the volatility of gas prices, the level of proceeds from the cap on market revenues and the temporary solidarity contribution cannot be estimated with any certainty,” it says.

“ Depending on the price level of natural gas, the proceeds could range from circa €300 million to €1.9 billion. However, the level is expected to be in the lower end of this range and could be even lower if gas prices reduce,” it adds.

Minister for Environment Eamon RyanMinister for Environment Eamon Ryan

Proceeds from the cap on-market revenues are expected to be collected in 2023, with proceeds from the temporary solidarity contribution to be collected in 2023 and 2024.

The EU Council Regulation says that the proceeds can be used to the benefit of electricity consumers.

This could include reductions in network charges, or supports provided directly to consumers, similar to those already in place.

The Government says it “will determine, in due course, how best to distribute these proceeds”.

Published in Power From the Sea
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Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan has described Government approval of terms and conditions for the first offshore wind auction as “another massive step forward” towards Ireland’s future as an “international green energy hub”.

ORESS 1, the first auction for offshore wind under the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme, is also the first offshore auction in Ireland’s history.

It follows last year’s enactment of the Maritime Area Planning Act, and the awarding of Maritime Area Consents (MACs) to phase one offshore wind projects last month.

The first offshore wind auction is expected to provide a route to market for up to 2.5GW of offshore renewable energy to the Irish grid, which is “enough to power 2.5 million Irish homes with clean electricity”, according to Ryan’s department.

“Coming during the weeks of the international climate summit COP27, publishing details of the auction sends a strong international signal that Ireland is serious about offshore energy and our national climate targets and obligations,”it said.

All offshore wind projects developed via ORESS will be required to make community benefit fund contributions from construction phase and continuing for the duration of the support period, the department says.

This community benefit fund will last “typically for a total period of 25 years” and will “result in lasting, tangible benefits for these communities”, it says.

Ryan said the first stage of “this transformative auction” will start before Christmas, and a final ORESS 1 auction calendar will be published by EirGrid shortly.

He said the pre-qualification stage will launch next month (December), while the qualification stage and the auction procedure will take place in the first half of 2023. Final auction results will be published by June 2023.

Any project that has been awarded a MAC is eligible to partake in the ORESS 1 auction. Seven projects – known as “relevant projects’ – were deemed ready to apply for MACs in Spring 2022.

At least three offshore energy auctions are currently planned for this decade.

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The “Spatial Squeeze” is a term you can expect to hear quite a lot about in the immediate future.

It’s all to do with the increasing competition for space in the offshore sector. Wind energy developers require space for wind-generating turbines, and those who already use that space find themselves pushed out.

Irish fishing organisations are expressing concern about developers choosing sites for windfarms “in the best fishing areas".

The Irish Sea could become an area of difficulty.

“Mutual respect must be given. For large wind farm developers, most of the first phase of applications for wind farms is in the rich Irish Sea fishing and spawning grounds,” according to the major fish producer organisations who said in a recent statement that: “Unfortunately, international experience indicates that the co-location of Offshore Wind with trawl fisheries is not possible. At present, we are experiencing a gold rush approach, as developers compete for space. We must defend our communities. The correct pathway must involve the recognition of traditional pre-existing fishing rights.”

The Norwegian marine insurance representative organisation. Det Norske Veritas (DNV), founded in Oslo in 1864, has issued a study of increasing demand for ocean space – ‘Ocean’s Future to 2050.’ This identifies growth in offshore wind power as a key driving force leading to a nine-fold increase in demand for ocean space by the middle of the century. By then, it predicts, “offshore wind will require ocean space equivalent to the landmass of Italy.

“The growth will be particularly pronounced in regions with long coastlines and presently have low penetration of offshore wind. Demand for ocean space is set to grow fifty-fold in the Indian Subcontinent and thirty-fold in North America and the Middle East. In all other regions, the demand for marine space should grow between five-and eight-fold.”

The Seafood Offshore Renewable Energy Group was set up by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien, “to facilitate discussion on matters arising from the interaction of the seafood and offshore renewable energy industries, to promote and share best practice and to encourage liaison with other sectors in the marine environment.”

While there is general agreement, it seems – and public support about the future importance of wind energy all may not be going smoothly in getting agreement between the various interests.

Lack of enough information has been identified as a particular problem. The Irish Islands Marine Resource Organisation is on the group, and its representative is Enda Conneely, who is my Podcast guest:

Podcast below

Published in Tom MacSweeney

Offshore wind could support upwards of 5,000 jobs by 2037, a new report published on the Western Development Commission (WDC) website says.

The report says that offshore wind could generate up to €400 million in gross value add (GVA) annually by 2037 also.

It says that engineering, applied sciences, logistics and supply chain management will be “essential skills for the growth of the wind energy industry in the Atlantic region”.

Other occupations and skills required to support the industry include science and humanities; construction and technical; legal and professional services; transport; electrical maintenance and infrastructure, it says.

The report compiled by Dublin Offshore Consultants and Bigger Economics was presented to stakeholders across the region late last week.

The report considered three build-out scenarios across the Atlantic region. These allow projections under “Steady”, “Rapid”, and “Aspirational” outcomes.

The projections from the analysis in the study indicate that the offshore wind sector will overtake the onshore industry in the Atlantic region within 15 years.

The study also identifies several barriers to success and makes a number of key recommendations.

These include the delivery of a regionally inclusive national energy strategy to coordinate route to market and grid upgrades along the Atlantic region.

It also recommends developing new courses and centres targeting the wind energy sector, with a particular emphasis on floating offshore wind skills and expertise not currently offered by Irish educational bodies.

The study was commissioned by the Mid-West, North-West and West regional enterprise offices.

It was funded by the WDC, along with Enterprise Ireland Regional Enterprise Transition Scheme, Clare County Council, Donegal County Council, Leitrim County Council, Limerick County Council, Mayo County Council and Tipperary County Council.

The full report can be downloaded below

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IberBlue Wind, a joint venture focused on the development of floating offshore wind farm projects, is commencing operations in Spain and Portugal with the aim of becoming one of the leading players in the offshore market off the Iberian Peninsula.

The company presented its strategic plans for the market today in Madrid. Its three backers - Global Irish company Simply Blue Group and the Spanish companies Proes Consultores and FF New Energy Ventures - have collectively extensive international experience in renewable project development. Thanks to this alliance, IberBlue Wind has the capacity to take on all phases of floating offshore wind farm development.

Simply Blue Group is a global developer of floating offshore wind farms with projects in Ireland, UK, US, Poland, and Sweden. Simply Blue Group currently has a pipeline of 10GW of projects under development. As part of its growth strategy, the company is now expanding into the Spanish and Portuguese markets.

Proes Consultores is the specialised engineering and architecture division of the Amper Group, with broad experience in the marine and coastal engineering sectors. Proes Consultores offers engineering, industrial and technological services and has participated in the design of Kincardine, a floating wind project in Scotland. Proes is one of the companies integrated into the Amper Group, a multidisciplinary group that also counts amongst its subsidiaries, Nervión Offshore, a global leader in the construction and assembly of offshore wind farms.

The third member is FF New Energy Ventures, a leader in the development, construction, and operation of solar photovoltaic and renewable energy plants in Spain, which has incorporated offshore wind energy into its portfolio. It is currently developing solar PV, wind and BESS projects in Spain and Portugal, having so far created a portfolio of 2 GW between the two countries, with more than 0.5 GW with connection rights already secured.

Supported by the alliance of these three leading companies, IberBlue Wind will participate in the public auctions for offshore sites off Spain and Portugal and will undertake the early development and design of the projects in advance of the construction and commissioning of wind turbines. To this end, its aim is to develop around 2 GW of floating offshore wind capacity off the Iberian Peninsula, comprising wind farms each of 500MW or more.

Initially, IberBlue Wind will focus on two strategically selected regions. In Spain, it will start in Andalusia, where it aspires to lead the promotion of offshore wind energy as a new economic engine for the region; and Galicia, one of the communities with the greatest potential for this form of renewable energy. In Portugal, IberBlue Wind will focus on the central and northern parts of the country where there is an excellent wind energy resource.

Iberian offshore wind market leadership potential

During the launch, Adrián de Andrés, Vice President of IberBlue Wind, highlighted "the potential for Spain and Portugal to become world leaders in offshore wind generation, as both countries have excellent wind resources, a long history in coastal engineering and first-class public works".

IberBlue Wind can play a key role in delivering this goal because, as De Andrés said, "we can leverage our knowledge and experience acquired in floating offshore wind projects in Great Britain, Ireland and elsewhere, in the Iberian market.” In his speech, the Vice President also called for the Spanish government to be "more ambitious" in the tendering of offshore wind farms. In this context, he stated that the generation capacity of these facilities in Spain could reach more than 10GW in the long-term future.

This generation capacity is much higher than initially envisaged in the Roadmap for Offshore Wind and Marine Energy Development, which has set a target of between 1 and 3GW by 2030. The current draft of the Marine Spatial Plan assigns a space for offshore wind that only covers 0.8% of the available maritime space along its 8,000km of coastline; a density that he described as "conservative" if one considers that leading countries such as Scotland already allocate around 2.5%.

Regarding Portugal, Adrián de Andrés considers that its legislation "is ready to provide exclusive maritime space for wind energy, although a regulation is needed to establish the procedure for the auctioning of these development rights". In Portugal, which has 987 kilometres of coastline, the government has committed to producing 8GW of ocean renewable energy in the coming years, almost double the 5.6GW of current onshore wind power generation capacity.

Offshore energy, under discussion

The presentation also included the round table "Offshore wind: the challenge of blue energy in the Iberian market", with the participation of Juan Ramón Ayuso, Head of the Wind and Offshore Energy Department of the Institute for Energy Diversification and Saving (IDAE); Tomás Romagosa, Technical Director of the Spanish Wind Energy Association (AEE); Antonio Sarmento, President of WavEC Offshore Renewables of Portugal and Dorleta Marina, Portfolio Director of IberBlue Wind.

The experts analysed the current legislative context in Spain and Portugal and explained the main challenges facing the sector in the coming years.

About IberBlue Wind

IberBlue Wind is a joint venture developing offshore floating wind farm projects for the Iberian market. The partners are Simply Blue Group, a leader in offshore floating wind energy globally, and Spanish companies Proes Consultores, the engineering division of Grupo Amper, and FF New Energy Ventures (FF NEV), a developer of renewable projects. IberBlue’s objective is to help Spain and Portugal position themselves as leaders in this field of renewable energies.

Using its knowledge of the market and its extensive experience in the area of offshore wind farm development, IberBlue Wind will take advantage of the greater intensity of offshore wind to generate clean and efficient electricity from renewable sources.

To this end, IberBlue Wind aims to develop around 2GW of offshore wind energy capacity off the peninsula comprised of wind farms each of 500MW or more.

Published in Environment

Three new research projects into the impact of offshore wind in British waters aim to provide “policy-ready” research outcomes to ensure expansion in line with biodiversity priorities.

The 8.7 million euro (£7.5 million sterling) ECOWind projects are being funded by Britain’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and The Crown Estate, with support from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Britain has set a target of 50GW of offshore wind power by 2050, which could have an impact on the marine environment and on other stakeholders, including the fishing industry.

“The cumulative effects of building offshore wind farms at such a scale, coupled with the consequences of other human activities on marine life, are not well understood, particularly when also considering the future effects of climate change and ocean acidification on the sea,” the team involved in ECOWind says.

A third project, entitled PELAgIO, will look at the effects of offshore wind on a wide range of interacting marine factorsA third project, entitled PELAgIO, will look at the effects of offshore wind on a wide range of interacting marine factors

One of the three projects, entitled ECOWind-ACCELERATE and led by Bangor University, will investigate how offshore wind affects the seabed through altering water flow conditions, and what this means for the wider marine ecosystem.

“ When a wind turbine is installed, it changes the way ocean currents flow, which also changes the seabed, resulting in knock-on impacts up the food chain,” the project team says.

“ Using the Eastern Irish Sea as a case study, and in the context of accelerating climate change, the project will help build more accurate environmental prediction systems, including anticipated behaviour changes in animals such as seabirds resulting from impacts to the seabed,”it says.

“ It will also build a public-facing tool to help people understand if their data is fit for purpose when assessing risks and opportunities arising from changes to the seabed after windfarm expansion,” it says.

A second project, known as ECOWINGS and led by the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, will focus on the cumulative impacts of offshore wind on key seabird species in the North Sea, such as kittiwakes, guillemots, razorbills, and puffins.

“It will investigate exactly what causes seabirds to change their behaviour when offshore windfarms are built - for instance, if they avoid windfarms due to aversion of the turbines themselves, because their prey species have moved elsewhere, or both,” the team says.

“The project will use these findings to build a set of tools to inform strategic compensation, a type of policy measure that aims to offset any negative impacts on wildlife through supporting their populations via other means, such as habitat protection or creation,” it says.

A third project, entitled PELAgIO, will look at the effects of offshore wind on a wide range of interacting marine factors.

“Everything that happens in the ocean is interlinked, but these connections are not always immediately obvious. The project will begin by examining effects on ocean currents, seeing how they affect nutrients and plankton populations, before scaling up to investigate effects on plankton-eating fish such as sand eels and herring, followed by the animals that eat these fish, such as seabirds and seals,” the project team says.

“Its findings will help build tools to assess policy trade-offs at the ecosystem level and create a better understanding of the many interactions taking place in the ocean, and how they change when offshore wind and climate change are introduced,” it says. 

The three projects will begin with meetings with relevant stakeholders, “forming partnerships with the offshore wind industry to aid their research efforts, and producing policy-conscious research plans for the next four years”, the team says.

“They will work closely together to share research techniques and equipment, and ultimately their outputs will be brought together to produce a suite of resources for decision-makers,” it says.

More details on

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Early and better stakeholder consultation on offshore wind installation is vital, and more quantitative studies are needed to assess the monetary loss to fishing, a European Commission official has told an international workshop.

The workshop also heard how underwater noise and energy emissions, which could cause displacement of fish stocks, have been identified as negative impacts requiring more research.

The workshop hosted by the North Western Waters Advisory Council (NWWAC) and the Pelagic Advisory Council (PelAC) involved expert speakers from the European Commission, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and the European Marine Board.

Its report has just been published on both organisations’ websites.

Céline Frank of DG MARE said that the Commission recently adopted the REPowerEU communication in response to the rise in energy prices, placing emphasis on the need for more renewable energy.

The European Commission plans to issue guidance on renewable energy permitting to shorten the administrative procedure in member states, she noted.

Frank outlined the results of a study prepared by DG MARE, led by Wageningen Marine Research.

It found the main impacts occur during construction of wind farms when disturbance and sediment displacement are higher.

She said that impacts are mitigated during the operational phase, which can also have positive effects on the environment, such as the creation of artificial reefs where marine organisms can find refuge and recovery.

However, the ecosystem is “likely to remain altered in its functions and processes”, and more research is needed on these aspects, she said.

She pointed out the importance of the marine spatial planning process, which should be accompanied by “continuous discussion and consultation with the different stakeholders involved”.

She said that compensation as a strategy has been approached in 11 different ways by member states, as some provide direct compensation to fishers while in others, it comes as part of a specific fund.

She said that more quantitative studies are needed to assess the monetary value of the loss of fishing.

She said it is evident that offshore wind farms tend to restrict fisheries activities due to safety implications, but cited Belgium as an example where no negative effect on fisheries were observed based on yearly aggregated vessel monitoring system-logbook data between 2006 and 2017.

Dr Andrew Gill, principal scientist, and strategic lead for offshore and marine renewable energy at Britain’s Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), outlined work by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) on the topic.

He said an ICES offshore wind development and fisheries working group found an offshore wind farm’s closed area can provide potential refuge for fish species, creating a new habitat and acting as a de facto marine protected area.

However, energy emissions, such as noise and electromagnetic fields, could cause displacement and sublethal effects on fisheries species, he noted

In response to questions, Dr Gill said that though no work is being carried out yet, spawning is something ICES hopes to address in future.

He said there is also a growing worry about floating installations with a lot of conflicting opinions, but ways to collect the data must be found to answer these questions.

In a discussion, Irish South and East Fish Producers’ Organisation chief executive John Lynch said that in Ireland, stakeholder involvement started with prospective developers visiting the harbours and showing maps with sites already chosen.

The fishing industry was not consulted, he said, and the currently proposed developments around the Irish coast will lead to serious fisheries displacement as fishing vessels will have nowhere to go due to the sheer number of wind energy developments proposed.

Dr Gill said the Irish situation is “an example of what is happening in many other countries as well”.

He said early engagement is key, but “has not happened in most countries”.

"Deploying renewables is vital and would also mitigate the risk of energy price spikes"

Better stakeholder engagement, and the need to strike a “careful balance, so as not to create other problems” was noted by Goncalo Carvahlo of PelAC, who also noted that while underwater noise is “out of sight”, it “cannot be allowed” to be “out of scope”.

In his keynote address, DG MARE’s head of unit Felix Leinemann said that the aggressive invasion of Ukraine has made it “absolutely evident that Europe needs to move even faster to reshape its energy system and reduce dependency on Russian fossil energy in the very short term”.

Deploying renewables is vital in this process and would also mitigate the risk of energy price spikes, while effectively acting against climate change, Leinemann said.

The Commission’s offshore renewables strategy aims to have an installed capacity of at least 60 GW of offshore wind by 2030 in EU waters, and at least 300 GW by 2050 (both excluding the UK with its own targets).

He said existing users, including fisheries, must be “properly considered”, along with the protection of marine biodiversity.

Published in Marine Planning
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Simply Blue Group, a leading Irish Blue economy developer in floating offshore wind, wave energy and low-impact aquaculture, has announced its second offshore wind project for Northern Ireland. The ‘Olympic Offshore Wind’ project is a sister project to ‘Nomadic Offshore Wind’ which was announced by the group earlier this year. Olympic Offshore Wind will provide a combined capacity of up to 1.3GW, located off the coast of County Down in Northern Ireland.

The Olympic Offshore Wind project will have an option to be developed in stages in-line with a stepping-stone concept that Simply Blue Group is using on other projects. This project will provide an opportunity for the local supply chain to set up and prepare for commercial-scale opportunities offshore in Northern Ireland.

Olympic Offshore Wind

Sam McCloskey, Northern Ireland Adviser at Simply Blue Group said: “We are delighted to add another offshore wind project to our Northern Ireland portfolio, as we believe the offshore environment off the coast of Northern Ireland offers huge potential to blue economy developers such as ourselves.”

Welcoming the Olympic Offshore Wind project, Steven Agnew, Head of Renewable NI, said “Offshore wind will play a crucial role in helping Northern Ireland to achieve a zero-carbon electricity system. RenewableNI is excited by the scale of the opportunity the Olympic project represents, adding to a growing portfolio of offshore developments that will bring jobs and investment as well as deliver low-cost electricity and increased energy security. It is vital that government matches the ambition of the Simply Blue Group and puts in place the consenting regime needed to deliver a thriving offshore renewables industry.”

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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.

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