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James Harayda & Dee Caffari, racing Sun Fast 3300 Gentoo, have won the second race of the RORC IRC Two-Handed Autumn Series. Gentoo took line honours in the 128nm race as well as the win on IRC corrected time. Richard Palmer’s JPK 10.10 Jangada, raced by Jeremy Waitt and Shirley Robertson, was second, less than five minutes ahead of Sun Fast 3200 Cora, raced by Tim Goodhew & Kelvin Matthews.

The overnight race was held in blustery conditions with about 25 knots from the north to north-west. The RORC Race Committee set a course taking in all points of sail and requiring strategic decisions, especially with regards to tidal current and also for wind shadow on the southside of the Isle of Wight.

Undoubtedly the best start was made by Nicola Simper’s S&S 34 Blueberry, starting the race at full pace at the Squadron Line. The RORC fleet headed as far west as East Shambles buoy with Outer Nab 2 forming the most easterly point of the course. After a night of hard racing south of the island, the fleet hankered down for a beat back into the Eastern Solent to finish in the early hours of the morning.

James Harayda is just 22-year-old and racing Gentoo with Dee Caffari who has sailed around the world six times. Dee is the first woman to have sailed single-handed and non-stop around the world in both directions. Harayda & Caffari have their sights set on representing Great Britain in the Two Person Offshore Keelboat Event for the Paris Olympic Games in 2024.

“You forget who you're sailing with very quickly, Dee doesn't come with an ego despite having achieved such amazing things,” commented James Harayda. “It's a really nice dynamic on board, Dee brings a huge amount of experience that I haven't had, I think our skills complement each other quite nicely.”

Listen to the full interview with James Harayda

The Royal Ocean Racing Club’s Two-Handed Autumn Series comes to a conclusion with the last race scheduled to start on Saturday 10th October. Jangada leads the series, followed by Daniel Jones’ Sun Fast 3300 Wild Pilgrim. Rob Craigie & Deb Fish’s Sun Fast 3600 Bellino is third.

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It's not the biggest ISORA fleet but all seven boats in contention are on the starting list for tonight's race that could yet decide the Irish championship.

Tonight's course will use 100% virtual marks – another first for ISORA. Race finish times will be recorded by the onboard trackers that provide instant results. (see tracker below)

The night race will also stand to those boats who are competing in the inaugural Fastnet 450 Race from dun Laoghaire to Cork next Saturday.

Race six's ISORA starters in tonight's 40-mile night race on Dublin BayRace six's ISORA starters in tonight's 40-mile night race on Dublin Bay

The Irish ISORA championship includes the Irish coastal and offshore and will be the defacto top award in 2020 after the cancellation of the cross-channel Wolf's Head Trophy due to COVID-19.

Overall, the coastal results don’t tend to count as weightings are applied to the offshore races. Tonight's fixture is weighted 1.1. The last race on the 5th September is 1.3!

Tonight's 40-mile course is as follows:

  • STARTING LINE at Dun Laoghaire
  • ISORA Dublin Virtual Mark (P) N53 17.110 W6 00.100
  • Virtual Mark (P) N53 27.99 W04 40.00
  • ISORA Dublin Virtual Mark (P) N53 17.110 W6 00.100
  • FINISH LINE at Dun Laoghaire

In the meantime, there are ISORA coastal races being run in Pwllheli as part of the Welsh IRC Nationals.

Live Dublin Bay webcam here and Race Tracker below

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For the first time in the history of the London club, the RORC Season’s Points Championship has had to be cancelled. Current restrictions continue to make it impossible to run overnight races for all IRC classes with the result that the last offshore race of the season, the Cherbourg Race has had to be cancelled. With only two races, the RORC Transatlantic Race and the RORC Caribbean 600 having been completed, and three required to constitute a series, the club has had no option but to cancel the 2020 Season’s Points Championship.

“This has been a difficult and unprecedented decision for the club,” said RORC Commodore Steven Anderson. “We were very keen to have one proper offshore race for all classes to allow us to complete the series. We all hoped that by September the restrictions to control the spread of the virus would have been eased sufficiently to allow a sprint to Cherbourg and a good way to end a very frustrating season for all.”


RORC Two-Handed Race to Cherbourg

Instead of the usual season ending Cherbourg Race, the RORC has confirmed the intention to run a two-handed race to Cherbourg. This race which will start on Friday 4th September is in line with current government regulation and has added significance in that the City of Cherbourg will host the finish of the Rolex Fastnet Race for the 2021 and 2023 editions.

RORC Racing Manager Chris Stone has been delighted with the number of teams who are participating in the summer series.

“We were pleased to have 133 boats in ‘Race the Wight’, the first race of our Summer Series and interest in the rest of the series is very strong. We decided to start the two-handed race to Cherbourg on the Friday to give the opportunity for those two-handed teams who are involved in the summer series to participate in the last race of the series which is scheduled for Sunday 6th September.”

The RORC Summer Series consists of three additional races on Saturday 15th August, Saturday 22nd August and Sunday 6th September.

Published in RORC

For the second week running, a smaller class two boat has won one of ISORA’s long offshore races in tricky light winds off the Dublin coast.

After a 15-hour marathon, the Grzegorz Kalinecki skippered First 310 More Mischief sailed into Dun Laoghaire Harbour to finish last night in darkness as the Class Two and overall IRC winner two in the 15-boat fleet.

Provisional results via ISORA's Yellowbrick tracker put two-class boats in the top three overall after the long race in light northerly breezes that took the fleet from Dublin Bay to North Dublin before a long reach to County Wicklow. The full course at 8 am was from Dun Laoghaire Harbour to a virtual mark to Bennett Bank to Rockabill to East Kish to Breeches, Muglins and a finish in dusk or total darkness at Dun Laoghaire Harbour. a total of 7o nautical miles.

With just seconds to the start, the ISORA Rockabill VI and the Sunfast 3600 YoYo look for the advantage at the Committe boat end of the start line (Above and below) With just seconds to the start of ISORA's Race 5a off Dun Laoghaire Harbour, Rockabill VI and the Sunfast 3600 YoYo look for the advantage at the Committee boat end of the start line

Rockabill VI at the ISORA start

JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI

ISORA Race start

ISORA Race Start at Dun Laoghaire Harbour

Kalinecki's 30-footer took some big scalps including the reigning champion Rockabill VI (Paul O’Higgins) that again made an impressive start to yesterday’s fifth race of the season and was the Class Zero winner. Last weekend in a fifty miler, Rockabill VI also showed impressive form only to be beaten by the A31 A Plus when the wind died and smaller boats caught up over the race four-course, as Afloat reported here.

Gently does it! Even a loudly spoken sentence seems to threaten the collapse of spinnakers in the light north wind. J109 Indian (Red) leads Samaton (Pink) and White Mischief (Black) Gently does it! Even a loudly spoken sentence seems to threaten the collapse of spinnakers in the light north wind. J109 Indian (Red) leads Samaton (Pink) and White Mischief (Black)

Shortly after the start, the 15-boat fleet head for the first virtual mark on the 70-mile course Photo: AfloatShortly after the start, the 15-boat fleet head for the first virtual mark on the 70-mile course Photo: Afloat

The overall winner, the Grzegorz Kalinecki skippered First 310 More Mischief (black spinnaker) makes her way out of Dublin BayThe overall winner, the Grzegorz Kalinecki skippered First 310 More Mischief (black spinnaker) makes her way out of Dublin Bay  Photo: Afloat

The Line Honours winner in an elapsed time of 13h 33m 6s was Chris Power Smith’s Aurelia from the Royal St. George Yacht Club. Third on class Zero was early season performer, George Sisk’s XP44, WOW.

George Sisk's WOW and John O'Gorman's Hot CookieGeorge Sisk's WOW and John O'Gorman's Hot Cookie Photo: Afloat

Sailing fully crewed as opposed to two-handed for the first time this season, Andrew Algeo’s J 99 Juggerknot II was second overall and the IRC One winner. Second in Class One was the Simon Knowles skippered Howth J109, Indian. Third in class was a new arrival in ISORA racing, the John Harrington skippered IMX 38 Excession.

Andrew Algeo's Juggerknot II from the Royal Irish Yacht Club was second overall and sailing fully crewed for Race 5Andrew Algeo's Juggerknot II from the Royal Irish Yacht Club was second overall and sailing fully crewed for Race 5

Second to Kalinecki’s More Mischief in Class Two was Desert Star, the Ronan O’Siochru Irish Offshore Sailing School’s Sunfast 37 that also finished third overall, in another coup for class Two. Third in Class Two was Steve Hayes’ First 34.7, Magic Touch.

Line hnouors winner Chris Power Smith's J122 Aurelia, included ISORA Chairman Peter Ryan (second from right) on the crew for Race five Photo: AfloatLine honours winner Chris Power Smith's J122 Aurelia, included ISORA Chairman Peter Ryan (second from right) on the crew for Race five Photo: Afloat

This is the first race of the 2020 season since news broke that racing for ISORA's overall Wolf’s Head Trophy would be scrapped this season following the abandonment of cross channel racing.

Ronan O’Siochru Irish Offshore Sailing School’s Sunfast 37 Photo: AfloatRonan O’Siochru Irish Offshore Sailing School’s Sunfast 37 Photo: Afloat

A new offshore race has been announced, the Fastnet 450 from Dublin to Cork on August 22nd, the same date as the cancelled Round Ireland Race. The new fixture is attracting some strong entries including some ISORA regulars including Algeo's J/99 and the Kalinecki Polish-based crew too.

Published in ISORA
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In a major change to ISORA's rebooted season, the offshore body is cancelling plans for any further attempt at cross channel racing this season.

It is the latest blow for Irish Sea offshore sailing fans and follows the loss of this month's Round Ireland Yacht Race.

In view of the COVID situation in UK and Ireland and the present regulations in force, a meeting of ISORA's Sailing Committee unanimously decided that there will be no cross channel races and instead there will be races on each side of the Irish Sea. In view of this, the Wolf’s Head Series is being abandoned for 2020, ISORA Chairman Peter Ryan told Afloat.

'This was a very difficult decision for ISORA where the Wolf's Head trophy has been presented every year since it was first presented to ISORA in 1977 but the safety of all competitors is our primary concern and we are of course guided by the rules and regulations of the separate Nations, Ryan said.

Competitors will compete for the respective championship titles on either side of the Channel, the Coastal Series, Class Results and the Silver Class.

ISORA's Wolf's Head Trophy - racing abandoned for ISORA's Top award for the first time in 43 years Photo: GPPhoto/ISORAISORA's Wolf's Head Trophy - racing abandoned for ISORA's Top award for the first time in 43 years Photo: GPPhoto/ISORA

Should the situation improve significantly later this month, resulting in a relaxation of the regulations, the last race, the James Eadie, may proceed as planned from Pwhelli to Dun Laoghaire.

On Saturday, ISORA ran two separate offshore races on either side of the Irish Sea in a bid to keep the offshore scene alive in spite of the pandemic.

The revised schedule will be published shortly with the appropriate amendments and revised Supplemental Sailing Instructions.

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Cork offshore sailing body SCORA has announced a new race that it says will be run in association with Dun Laoghaire Harbour's National Yacht Club and the Royal Cork Yacht Club. The 'pop-up' race is from Dun Laoghaire to Cork Harbour via the Fastnet Rock.

The IRC race will start in Dun Laoghaire on Saturday, August 22 which would have been the date of the Round Ireland Race start.

It will pass the Muglin, Tusker, Conningbeg and Fastnet lighthouses to Starboard before returning to Cork Harbour and passing the Cork Buoy to Port, finishing when Roches’s Point bears due East.

National Yacht Club celebrating 150 years this yearNational Yacht Club - celebrating 150th anniversary in 2020

The course is specifically designed to be of sufficient length to qualify skippers and crew for the RORC Fastnet Race 2021.

The clubs have combined forces to mark their anniversary celebrations, it being the 150th anniversary of the National Yacht Club and 300th (Tricentenary) of the Royal Cork Yacht Club.

Competing boats are invited to take part in the Tricentenary At Home Regatta of the Royal Cork Yacht Club which sees racing for IRC classes from the 28th – 30th August and will be one of the highlights of the club's celebrations.

The race will be governed by the COVID-19 guidelines as laid out by Irish Sailing and organising clubs.

Interested parties are asked to complete an expression of interest form here and a Notice of Race will be available in the coming days.

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In a first-ever for ISORA, there will be two separate offshore qualifying races for its overall Wolfs Head Trophy this Saturday, one in Ireland and one in Wales.

The change arises from differences in COVID-19 regulations on either side of the Irish Sea. It's something of a bravo move by ISORA chiefs aiming to keep channel racing going in a week that has already seen the Round Ireland Race, the highlight of the offshore calendar, fall victim to the pandemic.

28 boats are entered so far for the first offshore of the season over a course size of 55-miles, nearly double the length of recent coastal races.

ISORA's top prize for the famous Wolf's Head is decided over the best of five races but this must include three qualifying offshore races. These races are long offshore courses and traditionally cross channel.

Unfortunately, though, differences in crew number limitations, port access and difficulties with overnight stays onboard have all conspired to make it impossible to run a qualifying race which is equitable and equally available to all competitors.

The result is that Saturday's racing will be scored taking account of the respective fleet sizes in both races.

Given ISORA entries currently show only two Welsh boats entered, it looks like it will be a small race in Wales and a larger race from Dublin Bay.

ISORA's Wolf's Head Trophy for overall honours racing offshore in the Irish SeaISORA's Wolf's Head Trophy for overall honours racing offshore in the Irish Sea Photo: GP Photo 

ISORA racing in these difficult times has only been possible because of the association's investment in technologies which allow remote desk-top race management and as ISORA's Stephen Tudor told Afloat, [the association is] "Making the best of difficult times to get sailors on the water both sides of the Irish Sea!"

Saturday's race four consequently is a 55 miler, weighted 1.1. In Ireland, it will be a Dun Laoghaire offshore and back to Dun Laoghaire and in Wales from Pwllheli to Pwllheli. The course will be published by 1200hrs on Friday, 31st July. The forecast for Dublin Bay indicates more light westerlies that have been a feature of ISORA's 2020 Viking Marine Coastal Series thus far.

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The dominant form of the 2019 Irish yacht of the year, Paul O'Higgins' JPK10.80 Rockabill VI continues to stalk the ISORA racecourse, picking up another win at 1.30 am this morning off Dun Laoghaire Harbour in the well attended night race, according to provisional results via the ISORA Yellowbrick tracker.

The 25-boat race was the third in the ISORA 2020 Re-Boot series and the third race of the Viking Marine sponsored Coastal Series of four.

The fleet started off Dun Laoghaire outfall buoy at 8 pm (the same as race one and two) and headed south to the Muglins and onto Breeches just north of Wicklow before heading back up the Dublin coast and a finish off Dun Laoghaire Pier heads.

Rockabill VI Paul O'Higgins' JPK10.80 was the overall winner of the ISORA night raceRockabill VI Paul O'Higgins' JPK10.80 was the overall winner of the ISORA night race

Aurelia was line honours winner

Chris and Patanne Smith's J122 Aurelia from the Royal St George Yacht Club was the line honours winner but dropped to second overall on corrected time over the 32-mile course sailed in light south and south-west winds.

Third overall was the National Yacht Club's First 40.7 Tsunami (Vincent Farrell) in a clean sweep for Class Zero boats.

Vincent Farrell's First 40.7 Tsunami from the National Yacht ClubVincent Farrell's First 40.7 Tsunami from the National Yacht Club

J99 wins IRC One

In IRC Class One, Andrew Algeo's J/99 took the gun from the J/109 Mojito with Prima Luce, third.

Patrick Burke's Prima Luce was third in IRC OnePatrick Burke's Prima Luce was third in IRC One

Black Velvet Takes IRC Two win

Leslie Parnell's Beneteau 34.7 Black Velvet from the Royal Irish Yacht Club was the Class Two winner from Greystones Harbour JOD 35 entry Red Alert. Third was Humdinger.

Published in Viking Marine

​​The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Eamon Ryan T.D. today (20th July 2020), announced that Ireland has received State aid approval from the European Union to operate a new Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) out to 2025.

Minister Ryan said:

“As the Minister for Climate Action, I am delighted to welcome this announcement today from the EU Commission. It endorses the Government’s commitment to the Green Deal and launches a renewable energy revolution in Ireland. The RESS will provide us with a platform for rapid deployment of onshore and offshore wind and solar projects at scale and at least cost, replacing fossil fuels on our energy grid. It also offers communities the opportunity to produce their own power and share in the ownership of Ireland’s energy revolution.”

“As stated in the Programme for Government, Our Shared Future, we have committed to an average 7% per annum reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions from 2021 to 2030 (a 51% reduction over the decade) and to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. The RESS is one of the flagship measures that will assist Ireland on its way to achieving this target”.

The RESS will play an integral part of the progression to the ambitious 70% renewable electricity target by 2030 set out in the Programme for Government and to Ireland’s contribution towards an EU-wide renewable energy target of 32% by 2030, within a competitive auction-based, cost-effective framework.

Key features:

  • The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) is a competitive auction-based scheme which invites renewable electricity projects to bid for capacity and receive a guaranteed price for the electricity they generate for a maximum of 16 years.
  • The RESS will operate for a 5 year period out to 2025 (with an option to extend subject to evaluation) with a series of auctions planned, depending on the pipeline of renewable electricity projects. This will provide pathways for renewable developers including offshore wind projects. The scheme will set out the indicative timelines and volumes for auctions over the coming period and provide clarity for developers in relation to when they need to have their projects 'auction ready'.
  • The RESS is being rolled out with the cooperation of both the Commission of Regulation of Utilities (CRU) and EirGrid. EirGrid will implement and operate the auctions with CRU providing competition advice as well as auditing and monitoring the auction process.
    Increasing Diversity of Renewable technologies. The Scheme is open to a range of renewable technologies that will broaden the renewable energy mix and enhance security of supply including solar and offshore wind.
  • Preference categories: RESS includes the use of preference categories to enable technology diversity. The first RESS auction (RESS 1) includes a specific solar category, which would represent approximately 10% of the overall auction.
  • Community-led category: RESS includes the use of preference categories for community projects. RESS-1 includes a specific community category of up to 30 GWh. This will allow communities to develop their own renewable energy projects and sell the energy back to the grid
    Community Participation: The Programme for Government, "Our Shared Future", recognises the importance of community involvement in energy projects. Communities have been designed into RESS. The first RESS auction includes mandatory community benefit funds for all projects and a dedicated community projects category. Additional community policies and supports are included in the State Aid; financial support for community-led projects, mandatory community benefit funds, investment opportunities for communities and citizens, and additional community categories for future RESS auctions.
  • The scheme will also include an EU state aid evaluation during the five year period to examine and evaluate the intended objectives of the scheme.

In conclusion Minister Ryan added,

“To date, onshore wind energy has been the most cost-effective technology available to Ireland, however to drive on and meet our renewable energy ambitions, other technologies such as solar and offshore wind will play a critical role in diversifying our renewable generation portfolio for the period out to 2030.”

Published in Power From the Sea
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After a long and open discussion by the RORC Race Management team, senior members of the RORC Committee, and with advice from medical experts, it has been decided that any overnight race that the Club would run would not adhere to the UK Government guidance currently in place. As a result, the Ushant race has been cancelled and in its place will be organised a long day race in the English Channel using laid and virtual marks, starting and finishing in Cowes.

"It was a difficult decision as we were all keen to run a proper offshore race," said RORC Racing Manager Chris Stone. "The crux of the decision was based around the guidance that overnight stays away from home are permitted, but only with others from the same or one other household. So whilst a group of up to six people from different households can meet outside, and therefore race a boat (subject to social distancing), they cannot stay together overnight. Our medical expert also pointed out that it would be impossible to honour the 1m+ social distancing guidance when down below in all but the largest race boats."

"The RORC has to take a responsible position when organising offshore races and although teams are in the open air where transfer of the virus is dramatically reduced, we had to consider the position while below decks and the current Government guidance on staying away from home overnight," said RORC Commodore Steven Anderson. "The decision only affects the Ushant race and we will consider the options for the Cherbourg race (Friday September 4th) at the end of July."

RORC Mini Series

The RORC will now put in place a series of long day races which will include the 'Race the Wight' on Saturday August 1st, a round the cans day race in the Channel on Saturday 15th August and another long day race on Saturday 22nd August, with the Cherbourg race (or its replacement, on Saturday September 5th) and trophies awarded to each class winner, the Two Handed division and overall.

Race the Wight

Given that Government guidance now allows up to six people from different households to race on the same boat, the RORC Race Management team have also reviewed the eligibility criteria for the forthcoming Race the Wight, scheduled for the 1st August. There is no change to the Two Handed division, but the number of crew on any boat will be limited to six in total, or two thirds of the IRC crew number (rounded down), whichever is the least, with a minimum of three people.

RORC Racing Manager Chris Stone notes: "With the changes in regulations we believe that adopting the maximum crew of six people or two thirds of the boats IRC crew number (rounded down) is a fair solution for all the fleet and allows the smaller boats a greater opportunity to observe social distancing guidelines."

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Page 5 of 38

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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