Menu

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Displaying items by tag: RV Celtic Explorer

#MarineScience - As many as 12 artists, writers and musicians from Ireland and Europe have the opportunity to join expeditions on the research vessel RV Celtic Explorer and to work with marine scientists as part of an interdisciplinary art project for radio broadcast. 

The three-year AerialSparks project will explore the potential of radio communication as a means to rethink our ocean wilderness as one of the last remaining unknowns.

AerialSparks has been created by artist Louise Manifold for Galway’s European Capital of Culture programme in 2020. Inspired by the concept of traditional broadcasting and the use of sonar and other technology for data collection, the project will result in a series of art works for radio. 

Manifold, who previously worked with Galway schoolchildren on marine science and art projects, has commissioned artists from Ireland and Europe to develop new work based on their experiences of spending time at sea on research surveys carried out by the Marine Institute's research vessel, RV Celtic Explorer.

The Galway-born conceptual artist, currently on residency in Berlin, is keen to tap into the connections between radio as a communication and navigation tool, and discover how radio can make spaces visible to audiences.

“While at sea on the Explorer last year, I was extremely mindful of how radio can be listened to in solitude, yet bring people together providing a sense of togetherness,” she said. “It is amazing to think how early radio technology must have felt for many people bridging the distance of the ocean and bringing people together. Recognising the importance of technology, it continues to play a big part in how we understand the influences of the ocean.”

Taking part in the project are renowned artists David Stalling, Kennedy Brown, Carol Anne Connelly and Ailís Ní Riain, who will each spend up to two weeks at sea on the RV Celtic Explorer during scientific expeditions.

One of the surveys, overseen by Prof Andy Wheeler from UCC, includes monitoring deep-water coldwater corals reefs off the continental shelf, exploring the processes involved in understanding the coral habitats and sensitivity to climate change and human impacts. 

The artists will have the opportunity to record data where advanced robotic technology and 3D visualisation tools will be used on the ROV Holland I at depths of 3,000m under the water.

Ireland’s offshore territory is 10 times the size of our land area, and marine research projects involving new technology help us learn more about the land under the sea, its geology and processes and how this impacts our lives.

Artists will also get to work with Prof Sergei Lebedev from the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (Dias), where research is being conducted looking at offshore earthquakes in the deepest parts of Ireland’s ocean. 

With scientific equipment being deployed for the first time from the RV Celtic Explorer, including 18 ocean-bottom seismometers and an array of acoustic sensors, the survey will explore marine activity that can trigger undersea landslides.

Hannah Kiely, chief executive of Galway 2020, said of the project: “We are very excited about the waves of possibilities that the collaboration between arts and science presents particularly given the project’s focus on histories of the ocean voyage, maritime radio communication and how this might be felt and understood in a digital age. With our aim to be the first truly Virtual European Capital of Culture, digital is at the heart of our programme for Galway 2020.”

The ocean covers over 70 percent of the planet’s surface and with the advancement of marine technology, new discoveries are being made every day. 

Marine Institute chief executive Dr Peter Heffernan added: “Aerial Sparks is an innovative opportunity for artists and marine scientists to learn new ways to connect and engage with the wider community. 

“We are learning more about the ocean including new habitats being explored for the first time, new species being discovered, as well as the effects of climate change and understanding the impacts humans are having on the ocean.

“Therefore, increasing our awareness and narrative about the ocean is extremely important. Using the concept of sound and the sea is a unique way of showing how both the arts and sciences highlight the importance of exploration and curiosity.”

The Marine Institute is also hosting a series of lunchtime talks at its Galway headquarters for scientists, giving them the opportunity to meet artists working on the project, and to be introduced to their ideas, processes and future work for AerialSparks. For further information contact the research operations office at the Marine Institute.

AerialSparks is funded by the Arts Council of Ireland Project Awards, Galway 2020 and the Marine Institute.

Published in Marine Science

#MarineNotice - Hydrographic and geophysical surveys will be undertaken in the Celtic Sea and Atlantic Ocean under the INFOMAR (Integrated Mapping for the Sustainable Development of Ireland’s Marine Resources) programme until October 2018.

Geological Survey Ireland vessels the RV Keary (Callsign EI-GO-9), RV Geo (Callsign EI-DK-6), RV Tonn (Callsign EI-PT-7), RV Mallet (Callsign EI-SN-9) and RV Lir (Callsign EI-HI-2) are already involved in scheduled surveys since March.

Marine Institute vessels the RV Celtic Explorer (Callsign EIGB) and RV Celtic Voyager (Callsign EIQN) will begin surveys this weekend, starting with the former vessel on a three-week survey from Sunday 22 April.

The Celtic Voyager and the Celtic Explorer will be towing a magnetometer sensor with a single cable of up to 200 metres in length. The vessels will display appropriate lights and markers, and will be listening on VHF Channel 16 throughout the course of the surveys.

Details of co-ordinates for these surveys are included in Marine Notice  No 18 of 2018, a PDF of which is available to read or download HERE.

Note that the Atlantic Ocean Area may not be surveyed in 2018, but if for operational reasons the survey does take place, it will be during the dates set out above for the Celtic Voyager surveys listed therein. In that event, the Marine Notice will be updated with specific dates.

Published in Marine Science

#MarineNotice - The Marine Institute’s annual Irish Anglerfish and Megrim Survey (IAMS) for 2018 is scheduled to resume today, Tuesday 10 April.

After January's survey off the West and South Coasts, this month's survey will be carried out till Saturday 21 April off the North and North West Coasts of Ireland in fulfilment of Ireland’s Common Fisheries Policy obligations.

The IAMS is a demersal trawl survey consisting of approximately 50 otter trawls of 60 minutes duration in ICES area 6a. Fishing will take place within a three nautical mile radius of the positions indicated in Marine Notice No 15 of 2018, a PDF of which is available to read or download HERE.

Survey operations will be conducted by the RV Celtic Explorer (Callsign EIGB), which will display all appropriate lights and signals during the survey and will also be listening on VHF Channel 16.

The vessel will be towing a Jackson demersal trawl during fishing operations. The Marine Institute requests that commercial fishing and other marine operators keep a three nautical mile area around the tow points clear of any gear or apparatus during the survey period outlined above.

Specifics of any fishing gear or other obstructions that are known and cannot be kept clear of these survey haul locations can be notified using the contact details provided in the Marine Notice.

Published in Fishing

#MarineScience - The Government’s new National Development Plan includes provision for a new marine research vessel to replace the RV Celtic Voyager, according to The Irish Times.

Marine Institute chief executive Dr Peter Heffernan says work is at an “advanced stage” towards confirmation of the project, which would see the 31-metre Celtic Voyager — which has served for two decades — replaced with a vessel of around 50 metres in length.

The new ship would serve alongside the RV Celtic Explorer, which recently underwent a major refit, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Marine Science

#MarineScience - Research vessel RV Celtic Explorer of the Marine Institute, is off to a renewed start in 2018, after undergoing a major refit.

The Romanian-Dutch built ship is ready to accommodate 18 scientific surveys throughout the year.

The five-year refit included an overhaul of the bow thruster and an upgrade of its DC propulsion system. The vessel's original fishing sonar was removed and a new Simrad SU92 fisheries sonar installed. The new sonar will have an increased range and resolution and a decreased noise level, which will be a huge advantage for the Marine Institute's fisheries research.

The vessel's accommodation also received an upgrade after 15 years of service with cabin floors refurbished and a new accommodation layout in the scientists cabins. The RV Celtic Explorer's refit also included painting and antifouling of the hull and complete painting of the superstructure as well as a major 60,000 hour overhaul of one of its main diesel generators .

The 65.5m vessel was in A&P yard in Falmouth, United Kingdom for the refit which started in mid in December 2017 and works were completed this month.

The RV Celtic Explorer came into service in 2003 and is designed for fisheries acoustic research, oceanographic, hydrographic and geological investigations as well as buoy/deep water mooring and ROV Operations.

Several deepwater ROV surveys will be undertaken in 2018, one led by Dr Louise Allcock from the National University of Ireland, Galway will investigate deep sea corals and sponges from a diversity of deep-water habitats.

Professor Andrew Wheeler from the University College Cork will explore and monitor cold water corals in the submarine canyons in the deep ocean and determine their sensitivity to climate change, fisheries and oil industry impacts.

A survey led by Professor Sergei Lebedev from the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies will investigate the structure, evolution and seismic hazard of Ireland's offshore territory. Professor Lebedev's team will for the first time, deploy an array of ocean-bottom, broadband seismometers offshore, which together with existing arrays onshore will cover the entire Irish territory.

Dr Aggeliki Georgiopoulou from the University College Dublin will survey the structure and composition of the lower crust and mantle, as well as any hydrothermal activity RV Celtic Explorer off to a renewed start in 2018 at the Charlie Gibbs Fracture Zone, the largest geological fault in the northern Mid-Atlantic Range.

In 2018 the Marine Institute will also undertake acoustic surveys of Anglerfish and Megrim, Blue Whiting, Celtic Sea Herring and Boarfish on the RV Celtic Explorer. An INFOMAR-led survey will also map the physical features of the seabed in the Celtic Sea, using hydrographic techniques.

To follow the voyages of the RV Celtic Explorer, visit the Marine Institute website to track a vessel or view the vessel schedule. A virtual tour of the RV Celtic Explorer can also be accessed from the Marine Institute website at www.marine.ie

Published in Marine Science

#MarineScience - The call for applicants to take part in Training Through Research Surveys (TTRS) is now open to graduate and postgraduate students from across Ireland.

TTRS is a collaboration between the Strategic Marine Alliance for Research & Training (SMART) and the Marine Institute, which aims to increase national capacity in offshore marine research by providing placements on a range of dedicated research surveys.

TTRS surveys give students the opportunity to develop their careers in ocean science and gain hands-on research experience on board the Marine Institute’s research vessels, RV Celtic Explorer and RV Celtic Voyager.

Students can develop the skills required to work at sea including using advanced and up-to-date equipment and instrumentation as well as collecting and handling data.

Taking part in a TTRS survey enables students to establish new professional contacts with experienced scientists and researchers, as well as make a real contribution to the survey goals.

This year’s TTRS surveys are as follows:

To take part in a TTRS survey, visit the Smart Sea School website and complete an online application form. To read previous participants' experience of TTRS, visit the SMART blog.

Applicants for Training Through Research Surveys:

  • must hold a degree in marine-related science or technology or be in the final year of their undergraduate programme.
  • must hold a valid ENG11 medical certificate and a Personal Survival Techniques (PST) certificate (STCW95).
  • should have some prior seagoing experience.

Please note that ENG11 medical certificates must be renewed every two years and PST certification renewed every five years.

Information on obtaining medical and sea-survival certificates, and check lists for scientists embarking on national research vessels is available from the Vessel User Information page on the Marine Institute website.

TTRS participants are responsible for costs incurred in travelling to and from survey ports. For queries please contact [email protected].

TTRS surveys are supported by the Marine Institute. Grant-aided ship time is carried out under the Strategic Marine Research & Innovation Agenda of the Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland (Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth) under the Marine Research sub-programme of the Irish Government.

Participation in surveys is by kind agreement with the survey chief scientist. Applications are invited from graduate and postgraduate students of Ireland of Ireland higher education institutions.

Published in Marine Science

#MarineNotice - The Marine Institute advises that the annual Irish Groundfish Survey (IGFS2017) is being carried out off the South and West coasts of Ireland till Saturday 9 December in fulfilment of Ireland's Common Fisheries Policy obligations.

The IGFS is a demersal trawl survey consisting of approximately 125 fishing hauls of 30 min duration each in ICES area VIIb, VIIg and VIIj.

Fishing in 2017 is taking place within a two nautical mile radius of these indicative positions, the approximate locations of which are noted in Marine Notice No 55 of 2017.

As with last month's survey off the North West, the operation is being conducted by the RV Celtic Explorer (Callsign EIGB).

The vessel is displaying all appropriate lights and signals during the survey and is also listening on VHF Channel 16. It is towing a high headline GOV 36/47 demersal trawl during fishing operations.

Commercial fishing and other marine operators are requested keep a two nautical mile area around the tow points clear of any gear or apparatus during the survey period.

Published in Fishing

#MarineNotice - The Marine Institute advises that the annual Irish Groundfish Survey (IGFS2017) will be carried out off the North West Coast of Ireland between Tuesday 3 and Saturday 14 October, in fulfilment of Ireland’s Common Fisheries Policy obligations.

The IGFS is a demersal trawl survey consisting of approximately 45 fishing hauls of 30 minutes duration each in ICES area VIa. Fishing in 2017 will take place within a two nautical mile radius of these 45 positions, the approximate locations of which are noted in Marine Notice No 39 of 2017.

The survey will be conducted by the RV Celtic Explorer (Callsign: EIGB), which will display all appropriate lights and signals during the survey and will also be listening on VHF Channel 16. The vessel will be towing a high headline GOV 36/47 demersal trawl during fishing operations.

This survey is to determine the relative annual abundance and distribution of commercially exploited fish stocks, in particular assessment of recent recruitment. In addition, other species of national importance are sampled along with physical and chemical oceanographic parameters.

The Marine Institute requests that commercial fishing and other marine operators keep a two nautical mile area around the tow points clear of any gear or apparatus during the survey period outlined above.

While there is no statutory provision for the loss of gear at sea, the Marine Institute will make every effort to avoid gear, adequately marked according to legislation, that may be encountered in the notified areas. In the event that an operator has static gear or other obstructions within 2nm of the trawl points, it is the responsibility of the owner to notify the survey managers or vessel directly.

This should be communicated by identifying specifically which ‘Prime Station’ is of concern using the appendix and contact details provided in Marine Notice No 39 of 2017, a PDF of which is available to read or download HERE.

It is not required to provide positional details of commercial operations beyond 3-4nm of the survey points provided. Specifics of any fishing gear or other obstructions that are known and cannot be kept clear of these survey haul locations can be notified using the contact details provided in the above Marine Notice.

Published in Fishing

#SeaFest - Students from fourth class at Cregmore NS recently visited the RV Celtic Explorer in Galway Docks as part of their marine science and art project building up to SeaFest, Ireland’s national maritime festival.

Afloat.ie previously reported on the project, which places art, marine science and technology in the heart of the classroom in a re-enactment of the discovery of the Moytirra deep-sea hydrothermal vents in 2011.

On board the RV Celtic Explorer, up to 20 pupils experienced what it might be like to participate in an expedition at sea, as well as witness first-hand some of the equipment used in deep-sea exploration.

During the tour, led by Rosemarie Butler and Cushla Dromgool-Regan of the Marine Institute, the children learned about the recent climate survey of the mid-Atlantic and met with marine scientist Dr Louise Allcock of NUI Galway, who is studying cold water corals and sponges off the Irish continental shelf.

The students were also introduced to Paddy O’Driscoll, pilot of the unmanned ROV Holland I, who gave a live demonstration of how parts of the remotely operated submersible work.

“The enthusiasm the children showed about the ocean during their tour of the Celtic Explorer highlighted the importance of how school projects adopting different disciplines can be used in class in a very real and exciting way,” said Dromgool-Regan.

“The children’s high level of understanding about the ocean gained through the art and marine science project, where they discussed the geology of the ocean floor, concepts of climate change, along with deep sea creatures rarely seen by humans is a testament to the artists, scientists and teachers involved.”

Cregmore NS’s fourth class project, entitled Build Your Own Unknown, culminates with a film recreating the Moytirra vent discovery that will be premiered in the Kids Zone at Seafest 2017 before touring various education outreach centres around Ireland.

The RV Celtic Explorer will also be in Galway Docks for SeaFest with free tours available over the weekend from Friday 30 June to Sunday 2 July.

Visitors can keep track of all the activities taking place over the three-day festival with he new SeaFest Festival Guide app for iOS and Android devices.

Covering all of the events at the festival, the app contains the full programme of events, maps and directions, latest news, visitor info and social media feeds.

It also features an interactive 'My Favourites' list where users can add in their preferred festival events and create their own unique 'My Map' with all of the locations.

Snap-happy festival-goers can enter the Gallery Competition on the app by uploading a photo of their time at SeaFest — two lucky entrants will win a €100 One4All gift card.

Published in Maritime Festivals

#MarineScience - Marine scientist and researcher Dr Louise Allcock from NUI Galway is leading a team of 10 university researchers and students on a two-week deep-sea expedition researching cold water corals and sponges.

The team — who can be followed on the Scientists@Sea blog – are currently exploring the Whittard Canyon, located 200 nautical miles south-west of Ireland at the edge of the continental shelf in the Atlantic Ocean aboard the Marine Institute’s RV Celtic Explorer, which recently returned from a climate change ‘health check’ of the Atlantic.

And the researchers are making extensive use of the Marine Institute’s ROV Holland I, deployed into areas where the sea floor rapidly drops from around 300m down to 3,000m.

“The researchers and students are seeing for the first time corals and sponges covering an area around the Whittard Canyon, Porcupine Seabight, Gollum Channel and the Belgica Mounds in Irish waters,” said Dr Olivier Thomas, a professor of marine biodiscovery at NUI Galway and co-ordinator of the National Marine Biodiscovery Laboratory located at the Marine Institute.

Dr Allcock added: “Using the ROV’s robotic and lighting capabilities, we are able to manoeuvre the Holland I, which is comparable to the size of a mini-van, through the water, and use its arms and clasps, which are like hands, to take small samples of corals, sponges and other specimens from extremely hostile parts of the ocean floor where there is no natural light and tremendous ocean pressure.”

By analysing past research relating to sponges and corals, Dr Allcock explained that her team “are able to see that some species are better target groups than others in having antimicrobial or anti-cancer properties.

“Based on this information we are building mathematical models to predict the likelihood of any given species yielding a novel natural product, along with developing species distribution maps of corals and sponges on the deep-sea floor, so that we know the best places to go searching.”

When the research team returns from sea, they work with the national marine biodiscovery lab at the Marine Institute. The chemists at NUI Galway extract the chemical compounds from all of the samples of sponges and corals to see if they have drug-like characteristics such as anti-cancer or antimicrobial properties that can be used for novel drugs to combat human illnesses.

“Chemists involved in biodiscovery research only need small quantities of any organism to develop a new drug, because once a suitable compound is identified, it can be synthesised in the lab, which can then be used in drugs to combat human diseases,” said Dr Thomas.

The ROV Holland I provides high definition continuous video footage of the deep seafloor as it is being used to collect samples.

“Going back through footage after the expedition enables us to further analyse the location recording of all the corals and sponges,” said Dr Allcock. “This improves future predictions of where else we might find similar specimens and also allows us to provide data to inform conservation policy so that we make sure that important ‘hotspots’ rich in corals and sponges are preserved.”

Marine Institute chief executive Dr Peter Heffernan was enthusiastic about the mission’s prospects.

“These are exciting times to be a marine researcher as marine scientists around the world have discovered more species in the ocean in the last ten years than ever before, with an average of 2,000 new discoveries each year,” he said.

“In Ireland we are contributing to building on this wealth of valuable information and sharing the best available science and knowledge to inform decisions affecting the Atlantic Ocean.”

This survey is being undertaken as part of a five-year project on ‘Exploiting and conserving deep-sea genetic resources’ at NUI Galway, co-funded by the Science Foundation Ireland and Marine Institute.

The National Marine Biodiscovery Laboratory project brings together six of the country’s leading marine researchers across a range of disciplines from NUI Galway, University of Limerick and University College Cork to study how marine substances might in future be used to make ingredients for cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and functional foods.

Published in Marine Science
Page 5 of 8

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