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On Sunday afternoon (21 April), the RNLI Helvick Head was called to rescue three boaters who got into difficulty near Helvick Head, southwest of Dungarvan. The Irish Coast Guard requested the assistance of the volunteer crew who launched their inshore lifeboat into easterly Force 2-3 winds and slight waters.

The lifeboat, with Alan Kelly at the helm and crew members Páidí Breathnach, Catherine Reeves, and Rian Kelly onboard, arrived at the scene at 5:13 pm. Upon assessing the situation, the crew found that the three male casualties were safe and well, all wearing their personal protective equipment (PPE).

As the 20-foot cabin cruiser had sustained mechanical failure, the crew decided to tow it back to Dungarvan harbour. The boats arrived safely back to port at 6:15 pm, thanks to the teamwork of the RNLI Helvick Head volunteers.

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Lough Derg RNLI were requested to launch on Thursday afternoon (18 April) by Valentia Coast Guard to assist two people on a 36ft cruiser reported aground inside Navigation Mark H at Gortmore Point.

The inshore lifeboat Jean Spier launched at 1.03pm with helm Eleanor Hooker and crew Steve Smyth, Chris Parker and Joe O’Donoghue on board. The wind was westerly Force 4, gusting Force 5, and visibility was good with frequent squalls.

At 1.15pm the lifeboat located the casualty vessel inside Navigation Mark H and 25 feet from shore. The lifeboat stood off to observe the casualty vessel, which appeared to be raised out of the water and pivoting on a central point.

With a volunteer taking soundings at the bow, and using on board electronic charts, the lifeboat navigated a safe passage to the starboard stern side of the casualty vessel. RNLI volunteers noted hazards in the water close by.

An RNLI volunteer boarded the casualty vessel and established that there were actually three people on board, safe and unharmed and all wearing their lifejackets. A fourth person had left the cruiser to swim to shore.

The skipper of the casualty vessel had deployed the anchor in an attempt to prevent further drift towards shore. They informed the lifeboat crew that they had damaged their propellers and suffered engine failure after hitting rocks.

An RNLI volunteer checked under the floorboards and reported back to the lifeboat that there was no ingress of water or visible damage to the hull.

Given that the vessel was high out of the water and appeared to be pivoting on a rock, and hadn’t changed its aspect to weather with the anchor out, the lifeboat helm made the decision to take everyone off the cruiser and onto the lifeboat, having first ensured that the casualty vessel was secure with windows closed and gas supply switched off.

The lifeboat informed Valentia Coast Guard of this decision and the plan to moor up at the nearby Gortmore Harbour, so that two RNLI volunteers could walk back to locate the person who swam to shore. Shore crew back at boathouse informed the cruiser company.

Accompanied by one of the people from the cruiser, two volunteers set out on foot from Gortmore Harbour to search for the fourth of their group.

A member of the public who had offered to drive down the road to assist in the search located the individual and drove him back. With the four reunited, the lifeboat took them to Portumna where their car was located.

The lifeboat departed the scene at 2.39pm and was back at station at 3.03pm.

Aoife Kennedy, launching authority at Lough Derg RNLI advises boat users “to stay with your vessel and if in danger call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard”.

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Kilmore Quay RNLI launched on Friday afternoon (19 April) to assist five people aboard an angling charter boat southeast of the Saltee Islands when rope had become entangled in the propeller.

A number of the responding volunteer lifeboat crew left family confirmation celebrations to answer the call.

The all-weather Tamar class relief lifeboat Victor Freeman was requested to launch by the Irish Coast Guard at 1pm and it left the station, under the command of coxswain Trevor Devereux with four crew members on board, arriving on scene at 1.30pm.

Having checked all on board were safe and well, the lifeboat crew decided that the safest course of action was to establish a tow.

The lifeboat was soon under way with the casualty vessel to the nearest available harbour at Kilmore Quay, arriving at 2pm. Weather and sea conditions were described as good at the time.

The call-out came as four of the station’s lifeboat crew are currently on passage from Poole in Dorset to Kilmore Quay, bringing home the station’s permanent lifeboat Killarney which has recently undergone a major overhaul.

With a total of nine lifeboat crew from the Kilmore Quay crew active on lifeboats today, the station is renewing its call for interested people to consider becoming a volunteer at Kilmore Quay RNLI.

Speaking on the call-out, Kilmore Quay lifeboat operations manager John Grace said: “It was great to see all on board wearing lifejackets and having followed the correct procedures when they got snagged. Stray ropes or nets floating in the water can be a hazard to any vessel in this way.”

Grace went on to praise the lifeboat crew and encourage those interested to find out more about becoming a volunteer with the lifeboat station.

“We are lucky to have a dedicated volunteer crew here in Kilmore Quay to respond to call-outs,” he said. “Today some left a family occasion to go and help others in need. It’s a selflessness and community spirit that we have here in our volunteers, and we’d welcome more people through the door to carry out this important work.

“Anyone interested is welcome to come and talk to us and training is given. There is so much to get out of volunteering for the RNLI.”

The Kilmore Quay RNLI lifeboat crew involved in the call-out were coxswain Trevor Devereux, mechanic Declan Roche, Adam Kelly, Robbie Connolly and Jack Devereux.

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Portaferry RNLI inshore lifeboat was launched on Monday evening to assist a 6-meter fishing vessel which had suffered engine failure close to the Bar Buoy at the entrance into Strangford Lough.

Belfast Coastguard requested the launch of the lifeboat at 6.11 pm, and the lifeboat, with helm Russel McGovern and volunteer crew members Scott Blackwood, Ros Watret, and George Toma onboard, launched at 6.15 pm and immediately made its way to the scene.

According to the volunteer crew, the weather conditions at the time were cloudy but fair, choppy, with a force 4 light breeze from the north. Once on scene, the crew observed the single member of crew to be safe and well.

An assessment of the situation showed that the vessel was unable to continue under its power, so a decision was made to establish a tow. The lifeboat towed the fishing vessel back to the safety of Cook Street Quay.

The lifeboat departed the scene at 7:25 p.m. and was back in the station at 7:30 p.m. Russell McGovern, Portaferry RNLI volunteer lifeboat helm, said, "We would commend the crew onboard the fishing vessel for having a means of calling for help and for raising the alarm when the engine failed."

"We would remind all boat owners to check their vessel's engine to ensure they are ready for summer. Always check the weather and tides before venturing out. Always wear a lifejacket or suitable personal flotation device for your activity and always carry a means of calling for help. Should you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard," he added.

The incident highlights the importance of being prepared while venturing into the sea, and the tireless work of the RNLI volunteers who are always ready to assist those in need.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Rosslare Harbour RNLI came to the aid of a sailor who got into difficulty off the Wexford coast on Monday morning (15 April).

The volunteer crew were alerted at the request of the Irish Coast Guard after a concerned member of the public raised the alarm.

They reported that a 22-foot yacht with one person onboard appeared to be drifting towards rocks at the mouth of the Boatsafe adjacent to Rosslare Europort.

The all-weather lifeboat launched at 9.15am and upon arrival at the scene, its crew assessed the situation and decided in consultation with the sailor that, as they were unable to make safe progress, the vessel would be towed to the nearest safe port.

Speaking following the call-out, Rosslare Harbour RNLI launch authority Tony Kehoe commended the member of the public who raised the alarm for his vigilance.

“The member of the public’s actions were crucial in preventing a possible serious incident this morning and we commend him for his swift actions,” Kehoe said. “We would remind anyone who sees someone or a vessel in trouble at sea, to never hesitate to call for help by dialling 999 or 112.”

The volunteer crew on the call-out were coxswain Keith Miller, mechanic Mick Nicholas and crew Keith Morris, Paul McCormack and Dave McCusker.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Enniskillen RNLI in Northern Ireland launched their inshore lifeboat, the John and Jean Lewis, at 10.30am on Saturday morning (13 April) following a request from Belfast Coastguard that a fishing boat was adrift close to the Horse Island near Kesh.

Winds on Lough Erne at the time were westerly Force 5 at the time and visibility was cloudy.

Helmed by Stephen Ingram and with three crew members onboard, the lifeboat engaged in a search of all areas including the shoreline.

The volunteer crew searched the area around the Kesh River and Hayes Marina and onto Muckross Bay and public jetty area.

However, it was established that the casualty vessel had managed to return to shore prior to the lifeboat’s arrival.

Speaking following the call-out, Ingram said: “We would like to commend the member of the public who raised the alarm when they were concerned; that is always the right thing to do. We would always much rather launch and find that all is safe and well than not launch at all.”

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Two men were rescued off the coast of Achill Island on Sunday, April 14th, when their small open pleasure craft began drifting off Old Head. The Irish Coast Guard requested the assistance of Achill Island RNLI, who quickly launched their all-weather lifeboat 'Sam and Ada Moody', with a six-man crew on board.

The drifting vessel was located around two miles east of Old Head, and on arrival, the crew observed that the two men on board were both wearing Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) and were in good health. After assessing the situation, the Westport Coast Guard Delta was called to establish a tow and take the men and their small craft back to the safety of Old Head, with the lifeboat standing by in case further assistance was needed. 

Once the two men were safely back on shore, the lifeboat departed for Achill Island, arriving 25 minutes later. Ciaran Needham, Achill Island RNLI's volunteer Lifeboat Operations Manager, praised the crew and their colleagues in the Westport Coast Guard for their speedy response. He emphasised the importance of wearing PFDs and calling for help when needed, saying: "Even with the very best of plans and preparations, the most experienced boat users can find themselves in need of help at sea. If you see someone in need of help on or near the water, don't ever hesitate to call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard. Our crew are always happy to respond if requested to help."

The incident took place in good visibility, with a westerly Force 6 wind and moderate sea conditions. Thanks to the quick thinking and collaborative efforts of the RNLI and the Coast Guard, the two men were safely rescued and brought back to shore.

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Swords Sailing & Boating Club Vice Commodore Siobhan Broaders has presented a cheque for €500 to Howth RNLI lifeboat service on board its Trent Class lifeboat in County Dublin.

The North Dublin club raised funds through a New Year's Day sail and the annual club quiz held in March.

SSBC's Robert McKay, Stephen Broaders, and Siobhan Broaders attended the presentation with Howth RNLI Ops Manager Colm Newport.

 

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Wicklow RNLI inshore lifeboat was launched on Saturday afternoon ( 13 April) following a crew pager alert. The alarm was raised after a windsurfer contacted the Coast Guard, to say his friend was unable to get into the harbour due to the offshore wind, and they were concerned for his safety.

Two minutes after launching, Helm Alan Goucher and a volunteer crew spotted the windsurfer safely ashore on Travelahawk Beach. Contact was made with the person, and no further assistance was required.

Speaking after the call out, Lifeboat Press Officer Tommy Dover said,’Our advice for going afloat is always to wear a lifejacket or buoyancy aid, and it’s very important to carry a means of calling for help.’

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The National Opera House in Wexford is set to host a once-in-a-lifetime event, RNLI 200: A Celebration of Volunteers, Their Families and the Community on Thursday 23 May.

This special commemorative event marks the 200-year legacy of the RNLI and pays tribute to the brave volunteers who crew the boats, their families who make sacrifices and the communities that support them.

RNLI 200 promises to be an unforgettable journey through history, showcasing the courage and dedication of RNLI volunteers.

The one-night-only spectacular will feature a diverse range of performances, including song, dance, spoken word and video presentations.

Audiences will be treated to stories ranging from the foundation of the RNLI to epic rescues carried out by lifeboat crews along the South-East of Ireland, namely Courtown, Wexford, Rosslare Harbour, Kilmore Quay and Fethard RNLI.

Local talents such as George Lawlor, Tony Carthy, Chris Currid, The Craic Pots, Wexford School of Ballet and Performing Arts and Dara Pierce Ballet Academy will grace the stage alongside nationally recognised artists like pipe player Mark Redmond and tenor Glenn Murphy.

Under the baton of composer Liam Bates, the evening promises to be a symphony of emotion and celebration. Adding to the star-studded line-up, Celtic Thunder’s Ryan Kelly, Celtic Woman star Chloe Agnew and, fresh from their sellout performance at the National Concert Hall, The Sea of Change Choir will make a special guest appearance, with more surprise guests to be announced in the coming weeks.

Produced by Wexford-based Seanchai Productions Ltd, known for their events such as Wexford Virtual St Patrick's Day and The Green Light Sessions in 2021, RNLI 200 is set to captivate audiences with its blend of entertainment and heartfelt tribute.

RNLI 200 organisers say the event would not be possible without the generous support of sponsors PTSB, the EPA, Kent Stainless and The Talbot Collection.

Proceeds from the event will go to the RNLI. Tickets are priced at €30 each and are available from www.nationaloperahouse.ie.

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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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