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Displaying items by tag: Robert O'Leary

With lots of Europe countries in COVID lockdown, it is no surprise this year's Star European Championships at Lake Garda in Italy has drawn only 18 competitors.

As regular Afloat readers will know, Ireland's Peter O'Leary and Robert O'Leary from Baltimore Sailing Club and Royal Cork Yacht Club are regular International attendees but the sole Irish Star duo are not competing this year. 

The O'Leary brothers finished 14th overall in a fleet of 90 at the 2019 European Championship in Italy.

While this year's entry is low, the strength of the class is shown in the wide spread of ten European countries competing at Lake Garda.

Yesterday, two more extraordinary races sailed today in Riva del Garda, Italy, on the third day of racing. A strong wind from the North allowed the fleet to keep the schedule and close today Race Five and Six in the morning, granting the teams to throw out their worst score.

European Champion Diego Negri with crew Sergio Lambertenghi (ITA) were on fire yesterday, after a very slow start of the championship, winning both races with a huge margin over the rest of the fleet, and by discarding a 10th they jump up to fourth place, two points away from the podium. In third place, Croatian duo Tonci Stipanovic and Tudor Bilic, in second the Austrian team comprised of Hans Spitzauer and Christian Nehammer and on top, after four days leading, Piet Eckert (SUI) and Frederico Melo (POR) who discarded today their worst score so far, a seventh.

One more day today, and only one more race allowed to reach the maximum of seven races scheduled by the Notice of Race. If Negri/Lambertenghi can still aim for podium, the mission looks almost impossible for the team in the provisional rankings, 2017 Star World Champion Eivind Melleby with Martin Hejlsberg (NOR), eight points away from third. Nonetheless, we might still see some changes among the top teams, and the fight for the title of 2020 European Champion will be fierce tomorrow on the water.

Full results here

Published in Star

The O'Leary family of Crosshaven and Baltimore have a fine reputation for top-level competitive sailing allied with ready enthusiasm for volunteering in services to our sport, and Rob, the youngest O'Leary brother is following this tradition. Having served successfully as Captain of his university sailing club, he is now a newbie on the Committee of Baltimore Sailing Club in West Cork as the Honorary Sailing Secretary in this most demanding of years, when flexibility in planning and nimbleness in organisation has been the essential approach in keeping sailing alive yet compliant.

And he is equally a pace-setter afloat, having helmed the winning 1720 in the Baltimore Cup, the Southerns, and most recently the Munsters in Cork Harbour, racing in one of the most competitive fleets in the country.

Published in Sailor of the Month
Tagged under

Royal Cork Star sailing brothers Peter and Robert O’Leary scored their second bullet of the Bacardi Invitational Regatta in Miami, Florida and are now in striking distance of the podium, placed in third overall as they enter the last race today.

After a very stormy morning, with gusts of wind weaving through from all directions and a short postponement ashore for some classes, 542 sailors headed out to the water for the penultimate day of racing at the .

The wind eventually settled on all racecourses and the race committees made final course adjustments in response to the shifty breeze, which increased from around 6-7 knots to 10-12 knots. The building breeze backed up the forecast of a strong northerly front for Saturday’s final race day.

On the Star course magic happened and this year’s heroes were born as the 2020 Bacardi Cup Trophy was claimed. The leaders of the series, Polish Finn Olympic Champion Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL) and Brazilian five-time Star World Champion Bruno Prada (BRA) rounded the first windward mark in the unusual position of 10th, a place they had not found themselves in all week. Tack after tack they worked their way through the tough opposition to put in another powerful performance and cross the finish line in second, securing the 2020 crown of one of the oldest trophies in the sailing arena with a race to spare.

“I’ve attended the Bacardi Cup for so many years in my Olympic career but have never managed to win it,” said an enthusiastic Kusznierewicz, who is also the reigning Star Class World Champion. “It is an unbelievable feeling to finally win this after finishing runner-up last year. Bruno and I had an amazing week, three bullets and two seconds, I can’t remember having had a regatta so perfect in my life. I think I am ready for the Tokyo Olympics,” he laughingly concluded.

With the iconic Bacardi Cup trophy securely in the hands of the Polish-Brazilian partnership, attention now turns to the fiery battle for second and third on the podium. The Irish brothers, Peter and Robert O’Leary scored their second bullet of the series and are now in striking distance of the podium, placed in third overall. They engaged in an intense fight with the USA’s Eric Doyle/Payson Infelise, who opened their day with some boat damage and just made it ashore and back out in time for the start of race 5. Doyle/Infelise had to settle for a 3rd place score to place seventh on the leaderboard. Despite scoring their worst result of the series, a 9th place, Eivind Melleby (NOR)/Joshua Revkin (USA) sit firm in second place. Tomorrow’s last race will be a gruelling battle to complete the 93rd Bacardi Cup leaderboard, with the top seven teams separated by just 12 points and all in reach of a podium finish.

“Sailing with Bruno Prada is fantastic, I enjoy it so much,” continued Kusznierewicz. “We had an amazing year together, we won the Star Worlds last June, then the qualification round for the SSL Finals and now this epic race. Of course, it’s easier to enjoy it when you are winning, but I loved this event so much, and I love sailing, I don’t ever want to stop!”

Three races were sailed in the J70, Melges 24, Viper and VXOne classes, four in the Open Windfoil, but no racing for the AV8 kite boards.

In the J70 fleet, holding firm as leaders are the team on Eat Sleep J Repeat (Paul Ward/Ruairidh Scott/Ben Saxton/Mario Trindade), who despite an unusually up and down scorecard remain the most consistent in the fleet. Second and third respectively are the teams on Surge (Ryan McKillen/John Wallace/Sam Loughborough/Mark Mendelblatt) and NINE (Oivind Lorentzen/David Shreiner/Lucas Calabrese/Ian Coleman), who each claimed a race win and showed great form around the track. The opening race win of the day went to the corinthian team on Dime (Mallory Loe/Andrew Loe/Cardwell Potts/Brian Shores) who are 15th overall and second in their division.

The door is still very much open in the J70 fleet for any number of teams to step up to the podium, making tomorrow’s final day a challenge for control of the fleet. Ending their day just two points off the podium is the team on Midlife Crisis, with Bruce Golison on the helm.

“Today was a very tricky day on the racecourse,” said Golison. “The wind was coming from all over the place with lots of gains and losses for everyone. We had an ok day, not too good and not too bad. We are looking forward to the big breeze tomorrow, it should be a lot of fun and a great way to end the Bacardi Invitational Regatta”.

In the Melges 24 fleet, overnight leaders USA 820 (Bora Gulari/Kyle Navin/Norman Berg/Ian Liberty/Taylor Canfield) had to surrender the track performance of the day to Raza Mixta (Peter Duncan/Victor Diaz de Leon/Mattero Ramian/Carlos Robles/Willem Van Waay), who claimed two firsts and a second, but USA820 holds onto first overall on tiebreak advantage. Realistically, unless there is a major change in form, the fight for first and second will be between these two teams. On an 11 point deficit to the leaders and in third overall going into the final day is Shaka (KC Shannon/Jackson Benvenutti/Ben Lynchi/Tom Sawchuk/Elizabeth Whitener). Claiming the third race win of the day was Team Sebaajo (Jan Frederik Dyvi/Jan Boro/Herman Horn-Johannessen/Malin Rorvik-Sundelin/Stian Ness Rorvik), who elevate themselves to be first corinthian team and 11th overall.

Tight margins in the Viper 640 fleet, with just 3 points separating the top three teams, led by USA 293 (Will Graves/Ryan Cox/Greg Dair) on 14 points, second to Evil Hiss (Geoff Ewenson/Mary Ewenson/Tyler Bjorn) on 15 points and in third is Ness (Mark Zagol/Tim Desmond/Arielle Darrow) on 17 points, who won the day’s opening race. Bullets also went to Gnixe (Bill Vickers/Chip Steiner/V Vickers) and Antix (Anthony O’Leary/Ben Field/Nicholas O'Leary).

Published in Star

Ireland’s Robert O’Leary crewing with Australian Torvar Mirsky appeared to have lost their stride yesterday (Friday 6 December) and were the only team to drop out of the top 10 in the Star Sailors League Finals in the Bahamas.

This came after after an outstanding day three on Nassau’s Montagu Bay, when they were first to the windward mark in all three races, putting them in ninth to start the last day of qualifiers.

Highlights of day four can be watched below:

Published in Star

Star of day three in the Star Sailors League was Australian Torvar Mirsky sailing with Ireland’s Robert O’Leary, as the pair cruised into the top 10 on a day where young talent shone through amid lighter 6-12 knot conditions on Nassau’s Montagu Bay.

With the wind due north, 2017 Match Racing World Champion Mirsky was unbeatable upwind, leading at the top mark in all three of today’s races.

However, it was only in the second when he and O’Leary converted this to their first bullet, which helped lift them up to ninth overall.

“It was a splendid day – I’m really stoked,” said Mirsky once ashore at Nassau Yacht Club. “We were struggling a little downwind, but we were at the front of the fleet, which was really cool.

“In the lighter conditions we could look around a bit so we were able to tack, play the fleet and the shifts a little bit. We held on to most of it.”

Generally the lighter conditions favoured the youngsters in the 23-team fleet.

While Mirsky and O’Leary were the class act, scoring just one point more today were Scottish Laser European Champion Lorenzo Chiavarini and his German crew Kilian Weise, whose 3-3-6 left them in seventh (following yesterday’s two DNFs). Also going well today were Brazilians Henrique Haddad and Henry Boening who posted a 2-7-7, leaving them 10th.

Another three races are scheduled for today (Friday 6 December) starting at 11am local time to complete the qualification round. After this the top 10 alone will be heading on to the finals round tomorrow.

Published in Star

Australian Torvar Mirsky and Cork Harbour's Robert O'Leary are up to sixth overall at this week's Italian-based Star World Championships after three races sailed in Porto Cervo. The pair sailing the Irish Star Dafne now count a 16, 8, and 10 and are two points off fourth overall. Results are downloadable below.

Yesterday was the third day of racing at the Championship organized by the YCCS in collaboration with the International Star Class Yacht Racing Association (ISCYRA) and the support of Main Partner Audi and Technical Partners Quantum Sails and Garmin Marine. The games are still open with the world class sailor Augie Diaz now in the lead followed by Eivind Melleby and Mateusz Kusznierewicz.

Again the breeze took its time to kick in and the Race Committee kept the AP flag hoisted until 1 PM. An hour later, after a general recall, the Star sailors got the event's third race underway. Breeze from the southeast was at 6 to 7 knots at first and in the end built gradually to 10 knots.

Skipper Eivind Melleby, winner of the 2017 Star Class World Championship, and his crew Joshua Revkin worked their way up through the fleet and finished in first place. This win brings them from fifth place in the provisional overall results to second. Second place today was won by Christian Paucksch with Melanie Bentele - one of just two women racing in the Championship- who have been a team to watch all through the event. The Italian Roberto Benamati, Star Class World Champion in 1991, who is sailing with Alberto Ambrosini, placed third today.

Augie Diaz and Henry Boening staged an excellent recovery and finished fourth today and thanks to this result they are currently in the lead overall, trailed by the Norwegian Eivind Melleby. Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Bruno Prada are currently in third place overall after placing eleventh today. Paul Cayard is inching up on the podium: after having finished the day in ninth place overall yesterday, he's in fourth place overall today. So the games are still open with three races left on the calendar.

The Norwegian Eivind Melleby had these words: "It was a good race with pretty stable breeze and small shifts that were hard to play but it was for everyone. Downwind we had really good speed and I think that's how we won the race. We expect to have pretty much the same conditions in the next couple of days then a bit windier on Saturday, so we're half way through the Championship and we will give it our all."

The German Christian Paucksch commented on his performance: "We had a good start on the far left near the pin and then we got every shift right up until the mark. We also had a good tactic for the first downwind run. We tried to control the fleet on the second beat and we managed to do it quite well, then on the last run the fleet split a little and we stayed with the ones going towards the shore. Eivind Melleby passed us just at the end which is too bad, but if I think that when my girlfriend and I started sailing the Star Championship together we said that we should always try to leave a boat behind. We should be very proud of ourselves today as we left quite a few behind."

Today, June 20th, the forecast calls for light and shifty breeze. The first Warning Signal is scheduled for 12 noon.

Published in Star
Tagged under

Maurice ‘Prof’ O’Connell joins the media team for next week’s Star Europeans and Star Sailors League on Lake Garda.

The professional sailor and coach, and one-design expert with North Sails Ireland, will be providing the in-studio commentary and analysis with Digby Fox for live action on StarSailors.com along with Shirley Robertson who will be out on the water.

Prof is no stranger to broadcast sailing coverage, having been in the RTÉ studios for the last three Olympic Games — and he’s certainly no stranger to the Star class, with his final race at the Star Worlds in Miami only 11 years ago.

This year Ireland’s focus will be on the O’Leary brothers Peter and Robert, set to compete against a who’s-who of the racing world from this Wednesday 15 May.

Published in Star

Two separate O'Leary teams both sailing under the burgee of Baltimore Sailing Club in West Cork are in action in Florida next week at the Bacardi Cup in Miami.

Former Irish Sailor of the Year Anthony O'Leary sailing with David Hassett, Niall Rafferty and Tom Durcan will sail in the Viper class while O'Leary's sons Robert and Nicholas, (Robert was a recent bronze medalist in the Star Junior Championships) will compete in the Star Class. The brothers' boat, the aptly named Star 'Brotherly Love' has been based in Miami for a string of regattas this winter. 

Ninety-two years of history is a record that not many sports competitions can match. With the number of teams and the unparalleled talent on the water increasing each year, the Bacardi Cup Regatta is among the world’s most iconic sporting events. For 56 years, this event has had the pleasure of calling the beautiful warm waters of Biscayne Bay its home.

This year, the Organising Committee decided to extend an invitation not only to the Star Class, but also to other one-design fleets, making the 2019 Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta the most attended spring sailing event. The J/70 class, the fastest-growing one-design fleet in the world, has been invited for the second year in a row, while the successful long-lived Melges 24 class will make its return to Biscayne Bay along with the high-performance classes represented by the Viper 640 and Flying Tiger 7.5!

Racing gets underway in Biscayne Bay on Monday, March 4 for the Star Class. Racing for the J/70, Melges 24, Viper 640 and Flying Tiger 7.5 classes starts Thursday, March 7. The Star fleet will compete in a single daily race of proper endurance racing, which is the traditional format that the more than 100-year-old class dictates and exactly what the sailors relish. The other four fleets will sail 8 races scheduled across three days.

Teams from across the U.S. will be joined in every class by an international line-up of 23 different countries, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the Ukraine.

The 2019 Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta has a recording-breaking 166 entries, with more than 500 sailors attending. World champions, Olympians and America’s Cup legends will be on the starting line. The most shining one will traditionally be the Star Class, with the many heroes that still competitively race in it and sport the Gold star on their main sail for winning at least one Star World Championship. We are excited to have competitors include the very eclectic Paul Cayard (USA), who has been sailing Stars for 40 years alongside his successful career in the America’s Cup and big yacht racing; Xavier Rohart (FRA), the Bronze Olympic medalist in the class in Athens; Lars Grael (BRA), a two times Bronze Olympic medalist in the Tornado class; and Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL), the Gold and Bronze winner at the Olympics in Atlanta and Athens in the Finn class.

Amongst those targeting victory in the J70 fleet is Brian Keane (USA), who has raced the J/70 since the start; Vincenzo Onorato (ITA), who holds World titles in the Farr 40 and M32; Will Welles (USA) who is at the top of the leader board at just about every major J/24 regatta and Joel Ronning (USA) who finished first in the 2016 J/70 World Championships held in the San Francisco Bay.

A robust Melges 24 fleet of 26 entries are present in Miami to kick-off the U.S. class’ 2019 National Ranking Series, an eight-part regatta circuit that spans the North American continent. Returning to the impeccable Biscayne Bay racing stage is current Winter Series overall ranking leader Bruce Ayres (USA), and Megan Ratliff (USA) who is in charge of the Corinthian division. Other major players include 2013 World Champion and Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Brian Porter (USA), Travis Weisleder (USA) and KC Shannon’s (USA).

In the Viper 640 Fleet, we are welcoming back Steve Chapman (CAN) – Viper Class North American President, Geoff Fargo (USA) - West Cost Class President, Anthony O’Leary (IRL) and Mary and Jeff Eweson (USA). The Gulf Performance Sailing Foundation, a 501(c)3 from Gulfport, LA, with the purpose to promote sailing, will be sailing with all-junior crews.

The Flying Tiger Class will provide a “hassle free” regatta experience on fully rigged- and ready-to-sail boats, offering a three-day North-U Clinic where competitors can master their skills on the water.

Both Star and J/70 reigning champions will participate at the 2019 event: Diego Negri and Sergio Lambertenghi (ITA) will try to replicate their success in the huge Star fleet of almost 70 boats. Joel Ronning (USA), with his Catapult team, will try to be the fastest in the J/70 40-teams fleet.

Full results are available here

Published in Star

Cork’s Rob and Peter O’Leary are the Afloat.ie “Sailors of the Month (Open)” for February with their Bronze Medals at the talent-studded Star Junior Worlds in Florida in the first week of the month. The unique attraction of the International Star draws in a substantial fleet of world-class sailors from many disciplines, and the fluctuations in placings can be unnerving. However, with a strong finish the brothers not only kept themselves in the frame, but they moved into the medals while they were at it.

Published in Sailor of the Month

Baltimore Sailing Club and Royal Cork Yacht Club's Robert and Peter O'Leary are lying third overall after the first race of the Star Junior World Championship at Coral Reef Yacht Club in Miami, USA.

Beautiful sunshine and light breeze welcomed this morning the 36 teams attending the inaugural championships yesterday. The Committee was eager to get on the racecourse as the weather forecast said the breeze would be dropping in the early afternoon. One race was concluded on Biscayne Bay with the wind blowing around 6-8 knots from West at the start at 12,10 pm and then dropping to 4-5 knots towards the end of the race one hour and 15 minutes later.

The fleet began the Junior World Championship with a general recall and a few flags went up on the racecourse for unauthorized pumping over the four leg race. The fleet was distributed evenly over the course, with a little more wind on the right-hand side of it, towards Key Biscayne. It was American Star sailor Luke Lawrence, with crew Alexey Selivanov, who took an early lead at the first windward mark and kept gaining on the way down to the gate and through to the finish. Behind them, the Italian Laser Radial Youth World Champion, Guido Gallinaro with German Star World Champion crew Firthjof Kleen fought for second against Irish brothers Robert and Peter O'Leary in the unusual setting with Robert at the helm.

"It was great out there said, Luke Lawrence, a bit shifty but after a good start on the pin side, clean and easy, the wind went our way and we could put the bow down. There are a lot of fast guys on the racecourse, even among the newcomers. I've been sailing in the Star class for five years now, I love it and this 30 and under World Championship is a great idea!"

"It was very shifty on the racecourse said American Olympic Laser sailor Charlie Buckingham I am coming from the World Cup Series event that just ended yesterday with the Medal Race and I am quite tired, but I am lucky to sail with Austin Sperry who makes my job much easier and it is a lot of fun to be on the boat with a friend instead of racing alone like in the Laser."

After racing, the official Opening Ceremony took place in the beautiful garden of Coral Reef Yacht Club before everyone went home to rest for tomorrow. Racing is scheduled to start one hour earlier (at 11am EST) to try to get three races done and get back on track with the program.

Results after Day 1: (top ten, 1 race)

1 USA Luke Lawrence Alexey Selivanov
2 ITA Guido Gallinaro Frithjof Kleen
3 IRL Robert O'Leary Peter O'Leary
4 ARG Facundo Olezza Frederico Melo
5 BRA Nick Pellicano Grael Samuel Gonçalves
6 MEX Juan Ignacio Perez Mark Strube
7 USA Tomas Hornos Pedro Trouche
8 USA Charlie Buckingham Austin Sperry
9 AUS Luke Payne Torvar Minsky
10 CAN Alex Baker Rick Burgess

Published in Star
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Ireland's Offshore Renewable Energy

Because of Ireland's location at the Atlantic edge of the EU, it has more offshore energy potential than most other countries in Europe. The conditions are suitable for the development of the full range of current offshore renewable energy technologies.

Offshore Renewable Energy FAQs

Offshore renewable energy draws on the natural energy provided by wind, wave and tide to convert it into electricity for industry and domestic consumption.

Offshore wind is the most advanced technology, using fixed wind turbines in coastal areas, while floating wind is a developing technology more suited to deeper water. In 2018, offshore wind provided a tiny fraction of global electricity supply, but it is set to expand strongly in the coming decades into a USD 1 trillion business, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). It says that turbines are growing in size and in power capacity, which in turn is "delivering major performance and cost improvements for offshore wind farms".

The global offshore wind market grew nearly 30% per year between 2010 and 2018, according to the IEA, due to rapid technology improvements, It calculated that about 150 new offshore wind projects are in active development around the world. Europe in particular has fostered the technology's development, led by Britain, Germany and Denmark, but China added more capacity than any other country in 2018.

A report for the Irish Wind Energy Assocation (IWEA) by the Carbon Trust – a British government-backed limited company established to accelerate Britain's move to a low carbon economy - says there are currently 14 fixed-bottom wind energy projects, four floating wind projects and one project that has yet to choose a technology at some stage of development in Irish waters. Some of these projects are aiming to build before 2030 to contribute to the 5GW target set by the Irish government, and others are expected to build after 2030. These projects have to secure planning permission, obtain a grid connection and also be successful in a competitive auction in the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS).

The electricity generated by each turbine is collected by an offshore electricity substation located within the wind farm. Seabed cables connect the offshore substation to an onshore substation on the coast. These cables transport the electricity to land from where it will be used to power homes, farms and businesses around Ireland. The offshore developer works with EirGrid, which operates the national grid, to identify how best to do this and where exactly on the grid the project should connect.

The new Marine Planning and Development Management Bill will create a new streamlined system for planning permission for activity or infrastructure in Irish waters or on the seabed, including offshore wind farms. It is due to be published before the end of 2020 and enacted in 2021.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE. Is there scope for community involvement in offshore wind? The IWEA says that from the early stages of a project, the wind farm developer "should be engaging with the local community to inform them about the project, answer their questions and listen to their concerns". It says this provides the community with "the opportunity to work with the developer to help shape the final layout and design of the project". Listening to fishing industry concerns, and how fishermen may be affected by survey works, construction and eventual operation of a project is "of particular concern to developers", the IWEA says. It says there will also be a community benefit fund put in place for each project. It says the final details of this will be addressed in the design of the RESS (see below) for offshore wind but it has the potential to be "tens of millions of euro over the 15 years of the RESS contract". The Government is also considering the possibility that communities will be enabled to invest in offshore wind farms though there is "no clarity yet on how this would work", the IWEA says.

Based on current plans, it would amount to around 12 GW of offshore wind energy. However, the IWEA points out that is unlikely that all of the projects planned will be completed. The industry says there is even more significant potential for floating offshore wind off Ireland's west coast and the Programme for Government contains a commitment to develop a long-term plan for at least 30 GW of floating offshore wind in our deeper waters.

There are many different models of turbines. The larger a turbine, the more efficient it is in producing electricity at a good price. In choosing a turbine model the developer will be conscious of this ,but also has to be aware the impact of the turbine on the environment, marine life, biodiversity and visual impact. As a broad rule an offshore wind turbine will have a tip-height of between 165m and 215m tall. However, turbine technology is evolving at a rapid rate with larger more efficient turbines anticipated on the market in the coming years.

 

The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme is designed to support the development of renewable energy projects in Ireland. Under the scheme wind farms and solar farms compete against each other in an auction with the projects which offer power at the lowest price awarded contracts. These contracts provide them with a guaranteed price for their power for 15 years. If they obtain a better price for their electricity on the wholesale market they must return the difference to the consumer.

Yes. The first auction for offshore renewable energy projects is expected to take place in late 2021.

Cost is one difference, and technology is another. Floating wind farm technology is relatively new, but allows use of deeper water. Ireland's 50-metre contour line is the limit for traditional bottom-fixed wind farms, and it is also very close to population centres, which makes visibility of large turbines an issue - hence the attraction of floating structures Do offshore wind farms pose a navigational hazard to shipping? Inshore fishermen do have valid concerns. One of the first steps in identifying a site as a potential location for an offshore wind farm is to identify and assess the level of existing marine activity in the area and this particularly includes shipping. The National Marine Planning Framework aims to create, for the first time, a plan to balance the various kinds of offshore activity with the protection of the Irish marine environment. This is expected to be published before the end of 2020, and will set out clearly where is suitable for offshore renewable energy development and where it is not - due, for example, to shipping movements and safe navigation.

YEnvironmental organisations are concerned about the impact of turbines on bird populations, particularly migrating birds. A Danish scientific study published in 2019 found evidence that larger birds were tending to avoid turbine blades, but said it didn't have sufficient evidence for smaller birds – and cautioned that the cumulative effect of farms could still have an impact on bird movements. A full environmental impact assessment has to be carried out before a developer can apply for planning permission to develop an offshore wind farm. This would include desk-based studies as well as extensive surveys of the population and movements of birds and marine mammals, as well as fish and seabed habitats. If a potential environmental impact is identified the developer must, as part of the planning application, show how the project will be designed in such a way as to avoid the impact or to mitigate against it.

A typical 500 MW offshore wind farm would require an operations and maintenance base which would be on the nearby coast. Such a project would generally create between 80-100 fulltime jobs, according to the IWEA. There would also be a substantial increase to in-direct employment and associated socio-economic benefit to the surrounding area where the operation and maintenance hub is located.

The recent Carbon Trust report for the IWEA, entitled Harnessing our potential, identified significant skills shortages for offshore wind in Ireland across the areas of engineering financial services and logistics. The IWEA says that as Ireland is a relatively new entrant to the offshore wind market, there are "opportunities to develop and implement strategies to address the skills shortages for delivering offshore wind and for Ireland to be a net exporter of human capital and skills to the highly competitive global offshore wind supply chain". Offshore wind requires a diverse workforce with jobs in both transferable (for example from the oil and gas sector) and specialist disciplines across apprenticeships and higher education. IWEA have a training network called the Green Tech Skillnet that facilitates training and networking opportunities in the renewable energy sector.

It is expected that developing the 3.5 GW of offshore wind energy identified in the Government's Climate Action Plan would create around 2,500 jobs in construction and development and around 700 permanent operations and maintenance jobs. The Programme for Government published in 2020 has an enhanced target of 5 GW of offshore wind which would create even more employment. The industry says that in the initial stages, the development of offshore wind energy would create employment in conducting environmental surveys, community engagement and development applications for planning. As a site moves to construction, people with backgrounds in various types of engineering, marine construction and marine transport would be recruited. Once the site is up and running , a project requires a team of turbine technicians, engineers and administrators to ensure the wind farm is fully and properly maintained, as well as crew for the crew transfer vessels transporting workers from shore to the turbines.

The IEA says that today's offshore wind market "doesn't even come close to tapping the full potential – with high-quality resources available in most major markets". It estimates that offshore wind has the potential to generate more than 420 000 Terawatt hours per year (TWh/yr) worldwide – as in more than 18 times the current global electricity demand. One Terawatt is 114 megawatts, and to put it in context, Scotland it has a population a little over 5 million and requires 25 TWh/yr of electrical energy.

Not as advanced as wind, with anchoring a big challenge – given that the most effective wave energy has to be in the most energetic locations, such as the Irish west coast. Britain, Ireland and Portugal are regarded as most advanced in developing wave energy technology. The prize is significant, the industry says, as there are forecasts that varying between 4000TWh/yr to 29500TWh/yr. Europe consumes around 3000TWh/year.

The industry has two main umbrella organisations – the Irish Wind Energy Association, which represents both onshore and offshore wind, and the Marine Renewables Industry Association, which focuses on all types of renewable in the marine environment.

©Afloat 2020

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