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Displaying items by tag: Offshore Wind

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.”

Published in Power From the Sea
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Solent Gateway, the UK’s 'fastest-growing port', is offering a unique opportunity for the renewables sector with its designated Freeport status complemented with sea, road and rail access, opening substantial growth opportunities in the region.

The Sector Deal between the offshore wind industry and the UK Government in 2019 created certainty – unmatched by other European governments – that the UK will remain the anchor market for offshore wind. In the Solent region, this has created the potential for businesses to increase their involvement in key services such as designing, building and operating offshore wind farms, as well as manufacturing blades, turbine towers and cables. The region is proving to be well-positioned to support the growth in exports and, since the Sector Deal was made, the government has developed regional offshore wind clusters, which includes Solent, and has the ambition to increase the industry’s productivity, competitiveness and innovation while helping to grow the coastal economy.

Part of this growth includes Solent Gateway’s 225-acre Marchwood Port on the south coast of England, which offers a convenient and versatile strategic base for commercial stakeholders in the renewables supply chain. Solent Gateway already has a successful track record in the sector, handling wind blades that have been shipped to the port from Vestas on the Isle of Wight, where the company manufactures the largest offshore wind turbine blades in the world for the record-breaking V164-8.0 MW turbine.

Richard Parkinson, port director at Solent Gateway said: “The facilities we have at the port for handling abnormal loads, together with our experienced operations team, means we have the flexibility and capability to handle complex bespoke project lifts. We are seeing more businesses take advantage of us having the capability to move large parts safely from the quayside to a suitable holding area before being transported throughout the UK or transhipped onto other ocean-going vessels. 

“When the Freeport tax and customs site status is confirmed, it will be cheaper and easier for many raw materials to enter the UK for use in manufacturing within the Freeport. Teamed with simplified planning rules, this can help us quickly build or adapt our premises where needed. We are fortunate to be one of the very first Freeport tax and customs sites with new space available for business, so it’s a unique and cost-effective opportunity. 

“Being both a customs and tax site with over 64 hectares at our disposal, it’s likely that the businesses that will benefit most from using a site like Solent Gateway, under the Freeport status, would be those which want to develop new facilities and operations. This would see them benefiting from incentives to attract new business: importing goods and components to the UK; storing goods for as long as they want without facing customs duties after 90 days; and manufacturing or assembling products, as import duties are paid on final product or component parts when they leave the Freeport, whichever is cheaper. Any organisation that wants to import, manufacture and export within a customs site will avoid all duties. Any business that wants to store items for more than 90 days may also benefit.”

Marchwood Port started life as an MoD cargo port in 1943 and was only partially developed. There is much opportunity to use the capacity available and until now there has never been access to commercial business. The added bonus of being a former MoD site is the high level of security for the cargo.

The dedicated rail line is a relatively unusual offering, which allows loads to go straight from vessel to rail and move goods across the UK through the national rail network whilst reducing the traffic on the roads. In the current climate, it is also proving popular in alleviating some of the stress associated with the current HGV driver shortages. The rail connectivity takes you to the main line at Totton and from there north into the UK’s industrial heartland.

Solent Gateway is just 15 minutes to the M27 and M3 motorways and the port offers many incentives for new business, including the option for businesses to take land and build their own bespoke storage facility and utilise the port’s highly-skilled port operations team for your cargo handling needs. Solent Gateway prides itself on collaborative partnerships with its customers and strives to create the best possible port environment to allow businesses to thrive.

Published in Power From the Sea
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According to the Climate Change Advisory Council, investment needs to be made urgently in areas such as decarbonising the electricity system with renewables like offshore winds.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, the chair of the Council Marie Donnelly said it was clear that Ireland would not be able to operate a straight linear line from 2021 to 2030 in order to achieve its carbon emission reductions.

She said this is why it was decided that two carbon budgets were needed in order for Ireland to achieve its aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 51% within a decade.

The first carbon budget, running from 2021 - 2025, will see emissions reduce by 4.8% on average each year for five years.

The second carbon budget, running from from 2026 - 2030, will see emissions reduce by 8.3% on average each year for five years.

Ms Donnelly said: "The really clear message is that we need to take action now in order to get the benefit of the emission reductions in the second budget period."

More from RTE News here

Published in Power From the Sea

The south Connemara harbour of Ros an Mhíl could become a strategic hub for the floating offshore wind sector with potential for 900 jobs, according to a new report.

The report, commissioned by Údarás na Gaeltachta and presented to Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue today, was carried out by Dublin Offshore Consultants.

It identifies what is described as “a major opportunity for the Galway Gaeltacht and the wider economy” that could “revitalise the west coast from Clare’s Loop Head to Mayo’s Béal an Mhuirthead.

Ros a Mhíl does not currently have the capacity to support large scale offshore construction activities, the report says.

"Ros a Mhíl is “unique among ports on the Irish west coast in having existing permission for infrastructure"

However, it says planning permission granted to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) in 2018 for a 200m deepwater quay “provides opportunity to develop the necessary onshore infrastructure”.

Ros a Mhíl is “unique among ports on the Irish west coast in having existing permission for infrastructure with the potential to support the floating offshore wind project pipeline”, it says.

The report identified possible scenarios, namely:

Ros an Mhíl has the potential to be a strategic hub with an important role to play in supporting the “significant pipeline of floating offshore wind on the Irish west coast;

The proximity of Ros an Mhíl to offshore project locations, and its potential deep berth, provide the opportunity for the cost-effective and timely entry into the offshore energy market;

Based on servicing 3GW of projects, this has the potential to result in up to 900 direct and indirect jobs for the region;

Ros an Mhíl benefits from a significant land bank adjacent to the proposed 12m deep-water berth, under the ownership of both Údarás na Gaeltachta and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine;

Early signs of market intent for offshore wind in the region have been demonstrated by Green Investment Group’s recent acquisition of the 400MW Sceirde Rocks offshore wind farm off the Connemara coast;

A key component of Údarás na Gaeltachta’s strategic plan 2021 – 2025 is the “Green Gaeltacht”. Developing Ros an Mhíl as a strategic support hub for the offshore wind industry will “go a long way in supporting this initiative”, it says, and has been long identified by the authority as a strategic resource, where there are feasible opportunities for the harbour to be a strategic national centre for marine renewable energy.

Údarás na Gaeltachta is “working hand in hand with the community and the harbour development committee” to ensure that the harbour will have the opportunity to “attain every possible benefit from this sector in future” and that the appropriate basic infrastructure is available in the area to that end.

Welcoming the publication, Mr McConalogue thanked Údarás na Gaeltachta for its “foresight in having this report available to contribute to the deliberations on the future direction of investment at Ros an Mhíl”.

“There is a broad context here of cross-cutting Government policies and I understand that Údarás will take this report forward with their minister so that there can be a rounded consideration of the policy issues and investment needs raised,” he said.

Údaras na Gaeltachta chair Anna Ní Ghallachair and its chief executive officer Mícheál Ó hÉanaigh also welcomed the publication.

Marine Renewables Industry Association (MRIA) chair Peter Coyle said “the enormous wind and wave energy resource off the west coast should drive major new income and job creation in the area over the next twenty years”.

“Key to exploiting this opportunity is port facilities. The MRIA has long held the view that new port capacity will be required in the west - over and above the well-regarded ambitions of Galway and Shannon Foynes - and Ros an Mhíl is the obvious candidate with its deep water, land availability, geographical advantage and the support of Údarás na Gaeltachta,” he said.

Simply Blue Group director of stakeholder liaison and external affairs Brian Fitzgerald said that “as developers of the Western Star floating offshore wind project off the Clare coast, Simply Blue Group are passionate about the opportunities this brings for the west coast of Ireland”.

“Key to unlocking this potential is the need to have strategically located ports, to support the development of local supply chains,” he said.

“Assessment of the Technical, Environmental and Socio-Economic opportunities and constraints for Ros an Mhíl port considering the proposed development of Floating Offshore Wind (FOW) on the west coast of Ireland” is available here

Published in Power From the Sea
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The State's new maritime area regulatory authority (MARA) could take up to 18 months to be established for offshore wind and other coastal activities, according to Wind Energy Ireland.

As The Times Ireland reports today, the Department of Housing and Local Government has said MARA is a “priority” for government.

However, Wind Energy Ireland believes even if the required legislation is enacted by the end of this year, it could be 2023 at the earliest before MARA is in place.

The department says that an implementation plan is being developed in conjunction with the Department of Environment and Climate to ensure the new consenting regime would be “operational as soon as possible” to allow Ireland to meet “ambitious offshore renewable targets”.

The Maritime Area Planning Bill, which has been hailed as “the biggest reform of marine governance in a century” by Taoiseach Micheál Martin is due to go before the Oireachtas — paving the way for the implementation of MARA.

MARA will license large-scale projects such as wind farms and electricity interconnectors, where planning approval will be handled by An Bord Pleanala. Inshore development will be covered under a new foreshore licensing system, giving local authorities a greater role in the sector.

Wind Energy Ireland (WEI) says interim measures will have to be taken to ensure climate targets on renewable energy are met.

The industry body says that “delays to the establishment of MARA must not delay projects” with floating wind technology which may be developed further offshore.

Val Cummins, chairwoman of WEI’s floating wind energy committee and managing director of Simply Blue Energy, a Cork-based firm, said the floating wind sector cannot afford to miss a survey season next summer.

“We need projects to be in the water to undertake geophysical campaigns for a renewable energy support scheme but we can’t do that without a license and the current foreshore licenses do not apply outside 12 miles. So we need an interim measure to cover this gap until MARA is established, ” she explained.

Ireland has at least four major players keen to start working on offshore floating wind projects ­— including Simply Blue Energy, which has partnered with Shell, the integrated energy company.

A report published by WEI last month said Britain, Norway and France were all moving ahead of Ireland in floating offshore wind.

The report calls on the government to establish a renewable energy support scheme (RESS) for floating wind by 2025, which would support early commercial-scale projects for the Celtic Sea and Atlantic production zones. It is also seeking grid upgrades and port improvements.

Read The Times here

Published in Power From the Sea
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Birdwatch Ireland has warned the government and wind farm developers of the risk of “creating a biodiversity crisis” in its approach to renewable energy.

As The Times Ireland reports today, Birdwatch Ireland's assistant head of advocacy Oonagh Duggan said the "renewable energy revolution in Ireland won’t be sustainable" if it is at the expense of biodiversity.

At the annual Wind Energy Ireland conference, Duggan said Birdwatch Ireland recognises that climate breakdown is critical, and that Ireland must meet its 2030 targets.

However, the Dáil had declared a biodiversity crisis, as well as a climate crisis, she noted.

Figures published earlier this week by Birdwatch Ireland show that a total of 54 Irish bird species (26%) are now on the “red list”, indicating the “highest status of concern” for their populations

Among 23 new entries to the “red list” are the kestrel, a bird of prey, along with the puffin, razorbill and kittiwake and the knot and snipe waders.

Main threats to birdlife are habitat loss and fragmentation, disturbance, poisoning, and persecution - largely driven by policies moving “in the wrong direction”, Duggan said.

Renewable infrastructure is “one more thing for birds to contend with”, due to the risks of bird strike/collision, displacement, barrier effects and habitat loss, she said.

A bird wind sensitive mapping tool for onshore wind, which had been developed by Birdwatch Ireland and circulated to local authorities, “wasn’t as widely used as we would have liked” and is a “cause of concern”, she said.

She also said the organisation was very concerned to ensure that marine protected areas (MPAs), which Ireland has committed to, were advanced before the roll-out of renewable energy.

Ireland could learn from Britain’s model in establishing a liaison group between the fishing industry and the renewable sector, Dale Rodmell of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) told the conference.

This liaison group has developed a “best practice guidance on fisheries liaison”, which includes guidance on disruption settlements and community funds, he said.

A new version of this guide will focus on interactions between fisheries and cables in relation to planning and mitigation, he said.

“Two-way communication” is key, he said, and “co-existence” is best “tackled early” at the planning stage, he said.

Rodmell outlined the many risks posed by offshore wind farms to certain fishing activities, and said much depended on how farms were laid out and how much space there is between turbines.

Floating wind turbines - a new technology for deeper water - pose particular risks due to the need for mooring networks, he said.

He stressed the importance of “managing the relationship” on the ground with coastal communities, through agreed protocols and with potential community benefit initiatives such as funding for marine research projects.

Read The Times Ireland edition here

Published in Power From the Sea

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has welcomed Irish offshore energy Simply Blue’s deal with multinational Shell to develop its floating wind farm in the Celtic Sea.

Simply Blue Energy and Shell confirmed today that the multinational is acquiring a 51 per cent share in the Emerald project off Kinsale, Co Cork.

It represents Shell’s first return to the Irish energy market since it sold off its controversial Corrib Gas project in North Mayo.

Simply Blue Energy says the joint venture will use floating wind technology to develop 300MW of installed capacity initially.

As Afloat reported last July, the Irish renewable energy company was exploring the development of this island's first floating offshore wind farm close to the Kinsale gas field.

It says it will have the potential to scale-up to a total installed capacity of 1GW - equivalent to powering 800,000 Irish homes or the capacity of the Moneypoint power station, Ireland’s largest electricity generation station, it says.

Floating wind technology can be installed in deeper waters than fixed wind turbines allowing this project to be placed 35km – 60km offshore, reducing visual impacts, it points out.

It says that “depending on the size of turbines selected, the first phase of the project will include between 15 and 25 turbines”.

“The assembly, installation and deployment of these turbines could stimulate hundreds of high-quality jobs in the local supply chain,”it says, with long-term operations and maintenance of the turbines requiring local skills and services in Cork harbour for “up to 25 years”.

Colin Crooks, Shell’s vice-president for offshore wind, said in a statement: “At Shell we aim to build an integrated power business spanning electricity generation, trading and supply.”

“This project could provide green power to consumers and businesses alike and contribute towards Shell’s ambition to be a net-zero emissions business by 2050, or sooner,” he said

“Working alongside coastal communities to create shared value is key to success and this is why we have chosen and look forward to working with Simply Blue Energy who are rooted in the local community,” he said

Simply Blue Energy chief executive Sam Roch-Perks said that floating wind energy is a major opportunity for Ireland to become a “Green Gulf”, by “realising the benefits of its vast marine and offshore wind resources without negatively impacting our beautiful coastlines”.

“Our shared vision for Emerald is to do the right thing for our stakeholders, the community and the environment,” he said.

“ This announcement represents an important milestone in the ability of the Emerald project to ensure the government meets its climate target of 5GW of offshore wind by 2030,” he said.

Published in Power From the Sea

The Shannon Estuary has the potential to become a global hub for floating offshore wind according to a major new study.

If such a project were to be progressed, writes the Limerick Leader, it could attract up to 12 billion in investment and lead to the creation of up to 30,000 jobs over the next 20 years.

The Offshore Wind Potential Study (download)- commissioned by Shannon Foynes Port Company - by specialist geotechnical engineering consultancy Gavin & Doherty Geosolutions identifies the potential, through capitalising on the unique wind resource and deep-water port in Foynes to turn the State into an exporter of energy and generate unprecedented job creation in the process.

It finds that Shannon Foynes is best placed to service the future offshore floating wind market due to the proximity to resource and market; availability of the deepest watercourse in Ireland and one of the deepest and most sheltered estuaries in the world; extensive future landbank availability; and the existence of Shannon Foynes Port Company as a statutory authority with National Tier 1 port status.

The fact that the port also has European Commission, Trans European Transport Network core corridor status on North/South and East/West corridors and the existing 1.6 GW connectivity to our own national grid were also key findings of the report.

For further reading click the newpaper here.

Published in Power From the Sea

Cork based shipping company, Irish Mainport Holdings, has announced its entry into the Offshore Wind Sector with its investment in a 50-metre Survey and Research Ship, the Mainport Geo, and at the same time buying a share of Wicklow based offshore services company, Alpha Marine.

In Ireland, Mainport operates three tugs in the Shannon estuary, provides a dedicated supply vessel at the Kinsale Natural Gas Field, as well as ship agency and stevedoring operations in Cork and Limerick. Internationally, Mainport operates seismic support ships in worldwide trading and has significant interests in fast crew boats and anchor handler ship in Malaysia and Australia.

Mainport also purchased all the marine assets of SO.PRO.MAR which was the leading Italian company in providing marine services to the Mediterranean scientific research market. A new company Mainport Med, based in Rome, was set up during 2020 with local Italian partners.

The new ship, 2015 built Mainport Geo is 50 m LOA, has DP 2 system, quieter, and economic diesel-electric engines, FIFI 1 and SPS notation for 35 passengers. She is located in Ivory Coast at present and will be delivered to Cork shortly.

Alpha Marine has a long history of service to the offshore wind sector, both in Ireland and overseas. Since 2004, the company has provided tug and workboat charter, crew transfer vessels (CTVS), hydrographic survey, subsea repair and maintenance and most recently, Environmental & Geophysical survey to offshore wind in Ireland and the UK.

Tim Greenwood, Commercial Director of Alpha Marine said: “Alpha Marine is looking forward to a bright future for offshore wind in Ireland and we are naturally delighted to partner with Mainport. This strategic investment will increase our operational capability and enable us to deliver a strong Irish supply chain proposition to windfarm developers and tier 1 & 2 contractors. Over the last year or two, we have seen an uptake in enquiries for geophysical survey so the added capability that the Mainport Geo brings us is very exciting indeed.”

Dave Ronayne, Chief Executive of Mainport said, “We are delighted with this new ship, which will be very suitable for the offshore renewable sector in Ireland. We know there is over €5 Billion investment planned over next few years on the east coast of Ireland by many major existing offshore wind operators such as Innogy, Parkwind, ESB, Statkraft, Fred Olsen and SSE and all these new wind farms will require surveying services. This ship is also very suitable for the Italian scientific research markets.

We are very happy to join with Alpha Marine who is ideally located on the east coast of Ireland and who have a great track record on providing services to the offshore wind industry over the last decade. Our combined resources will allow us to provide a full marine and technical solution to all marine requirements.”

Published in Cork Harbour
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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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