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In the first of three extracts from Lorna Siggins’ new book, Search and Rescue, the journalist and regular Afloat.ie contributor recounts the harrowing ordeal of two Galway cousins, Sara Feeney and Ellen Glynn, who were reported missing on 12 August 2020 after they went paddle boarding off Furbo beach in Co Galway…

Air temperatures of around 18 degrees had fallen to 15 degrees
 during the night. Even though the sea was warm – at around
 18 degrees – the estimates for survival at sea in normal clothing would be around twenty hours. The two women weren’t aware of this, but they were well aware of their vulnerability in bikinis and lifejackets.


Ellen was worried about her own lack of tolerance for cold, 
but the water had been warm that evening. They kept checking the
shore lights, paddling and waiting, and still feeling bad about ‘all the hassle we were causing’.


Neither wanted to say what they really thought. Ellen, who
was a little stressed, felt an uncontrollable urge to burst into song. She belted out the lyrics of Taylor Swift’s ‘Exile’. ‘At first I’d say Sara thought I was a bit insane,’ she said later. ‘But she just sorta started singing along … it was a distraction … that was just before the first boat came.’


Sara recalled: ‘We definitely knew there was activity and people looking for us. At one point, a boat lit a flare close to us to signal to the helicopter … We thought they would pick up the reflective strips on the boards, or on our buoyancy aids. … Not long after that, we saw the first helicopter. It felt like they were very close … You get that initial sense of relief and then … we would scream and roar and no one could hear.’


They continued to paddle, all the while straining to identify the lights on the shore. In the downdraught caused by the helicopters and the wash from searching vessels, they struggled at times to stay on the boards. Ellen had fallen off once already, earlier in the night. Instinctively sensing they needed to keep their spirits up, they chatted about what they would most like to do when they arrived back. Ellen said she was really looking forward to a hot shower and getting into comfy pyjamas. They talked about how lucky they were to have their lifejackets on, how people were looking for them, how they were going to be found and how everything would be fine.


Father and son Patrick and Morgan Oliver, who rescued Ellen Glynn and Sara Feeney after they were found off Inis Oírr in August 2020. With the Olivers are Galway RNLI lifeboat crew members (from left to right) Olivia Byrne, Sean King, Ian O’Gorman, Cathal Byrne, Stefanie Carr, Declan Killilea and Lisa McDonagh who were out all night on the search | Credit: Joe O’ShaughnessyFather and son Patrick and Morgan Oliver, who rescued Ellen Glynn and Sara Feeney after they were found off Inis Oírr in August 2020. With the Olivers are Galway RNLI lifeboat crew members (from left to right) Olivia Byrne, Sean King, Ian O’Gorman, Cathal Byrne, Stefanie Carr, Declan Killilea and Lisa McDonagh who were out all night on the search | Credit: Joe O’Shaughnessy

Ellen remembered at one point thinking about how cold it 
must be for those sleeping out every night with no homes to go
 to. She only had to be ‘there for one night’, she told herself. The line from ‘Exile’ about seeing ‘this film before’ and not liking the ending kept looping around in her head, and she sent silent mind messages to her mum, reassuring her that she was okay.

While on the water, they witnessed the meteor shower and
marvelled at bioluminescent light for a time as the seas were lit up by the chemical reactions of millions of tiny marine organisms.

‘So I remember, when we saw the shooting stars, I’d always
wanted to see them, so I thought that was really cool, and then the plankton in the water,’ Ellen said. ‘They’d been in the water a year before that, and I didn’t get to see them, so I was kind of thinking in my head, “Am I getting to see all this stuff now because I’m going to die?”’


Sara said: ‘With the meteor shower, between the two of us there was some amount of wishes made. To be honest, I’d sacrifice a
meteor shower and bioluminescence just to get home safe...We were singing, talking, anything we could to keep our moods up. If fear was seeping in, one of us would reassure the other...

‘It was horrible to be out there and realise everyone would
 be worried sick, and it felt really awful that everyone spent
 so many hours looking for us. I think if we had panicked at 
all, things could have been very different. I know if Ellen 
had panicked, I would have found it very difficult.’

The weather deteriorated and the rain was so heavy that it hurt.
 They had stopped seeing any lights of vessels, any search activity now. Their last sight of a helicopter was just before the lightning storm at around 4.20 a.m. When the aircraft flew off, they knew they would have to stick it out to first light.


At that point, Sara had a clear memory of being enveloped 
in a fear that she could not articulate, knowing the impact any 
mention of this might have on her cousin: ‘The chances aren’t too good for you if the helicopter couldn’t be out in those conditions … you know … because the size of the helicopter compared to us and all we have is the boards … You see the helicopter going in, because of the stormy weather, and that didn’t bode well for us. We didn’t even verbalise what might happen, or what we might both be thinking. Ellen probably had total understanding of what was going on, but neither of us really communicated that to each other … we didn’t really say that out loud at the time. If we had started talking like that, it was just another level of hopelessness we didn’t need.’


The Galway RNLI inshore lifeboat returning after the cousins were found on their paddle boards off the Aran island of Inis Oírr | Credit: Joe O’ShaughnessyThe Galway RNLI inshore lifeboat returning after the cousins were found on their paddle boards off the Aran island of Inis Oírr | Credit: Joe O’Shaughnessy

They lay down on the boards, trying to stay as stable as possible in waves of up to 2 metres in height, hoping they could just wait the night out. Ellen thought they were being carried towards Kinvara, though she wasn’t sure.


Sara had a sense her cousin might be falling asleep, so she played word games with her to keep her alert and urged her to kick her legs every so often to keep warm.


***


The Galway RNLI crew came alongside Barna pier during the
 night for extra fuel and a crew change. By 5 a.m. local fishing
 vessels were out.


Back on Cappagh road, the light came on in Mary Feeney’s
 bedroom, waking her and her husband, Tommy. Her eldest, 
Karen, and youngest, Donal, were at the foot of her bed. They 
explained that they had some news. Her two granddaughters were 
missing at sea. As she tried to make sense of the information,
 Mary remembered giving Karen and Donal a couple of lamps to 
take back out with them.


Back in Galway lifeboat station, co-ordinator Mike Swan
 arrived around 6 a.m. to check in with his colleague Barry Heskin, who had been on duty throughout the night. The situation was not looking good, given the night’s bad weather on the bay. Some of the lifeboat crew who had been out in the early hours had crashed in chairs or were lying on the pool table to grab some sleep. Breakfast rolls had sustained them during a long night at sea and Swan had organised a box of the same for colleagues on the RNLI Aran lifeboat.


Sailor and yacht chandler Pierce Purcell received an early morning call and set his energies to putting the word out among the sailing clubs, while the family put out posts on social media, appealing for help. Several fishing vessels contacted John O’Donnell on the Aran lifeboat to get advice on where to search. Ferries serving the Aran Islands based in Doolin and in Ros-a-Mhíl also declared they would assist. Several private pilots – John Kiely and Patrick Curran – joined in with a light plane and helicopter respectively, as did Aer Arann on its routine flights between Indreabhán and the islands.


An Irish Coast Guard S-92 landing at University Hospital Galway with cousins Ellen Glynn and Sara Feeney on board, after they were flown from Inis Oírr | Credit: Joe O’ShaughnessyAn Irish Coast Guard S-92 landing at University Hospital Galway with cousins Ellen Glynn and Sara Feeney on board, after they were flown from Inis Oírr | Credit: Joe O’Shaughnessy

‘We took one of our ferries out from Doolin at 9 a.m. – the
Jack B – with Captain James Fennell, my nephew Martin Garrihy
and myself on board. Island Ferries was also searching in between sailings out of Ros-a-Mhíl, and Bill O’Brien of Doolin Ferries,’ Donie Garrihy said.

‘We scoured around Inis Oírr and were then told to search between Inis Oírr and Inis Meáin as far down as the lighthouse, and then got a call to double back up from Inis Oírr towards Spiddal.’


The Oranmore-Maree Coastal Search Unit became involved, as did the Marine Institute. The institute had expertise in modelling, combining tide, currents and weather to predict drift patterns on the bay. Over the first daylight hours, there were a number of reported sightings: several kayakers out searching and several objects that turned out to be lobster pots were mistaken for the paddleboarders.


Galway Bay’s name belies a sea area as large as the county. As
Mike Swan explained later: ‘It is like driving from Galway east to Ballinasloe, and then searching from Loughrea in the south-east to Athenry to the north-west … a big area, a load of fields, and then you are looking for two girls and it’s night-time. If there’s a wave at all and someone is 100 metres away,
there’s no way in hell you’re gonna see them … you only see them when you’re on the top of the wave … and you must remember too that the boat they’re in might be on the bottom of the wave. So it is all about searching slowly and methodically …’


Friends, relatives and people who didn’t know the families drove 
many miles to join the search, some having left their homes in the middle of the night. Deirdre was aware of her daughter’s resilience, and the fact that both young women were, as her sister Helen put it, two smart, sensible girls. She had an inexplicably strong sense of hope and, for some reason, she couldn’t get a Taylor Swift song out of her head.


From Chapter 17, “Why aren’t they turning around?”. Search and Rescue: True Stories of Irish Air-Sea Rescues and the Loss of R116 by Lorna Siggins is published by Merrion Press, €16.95/£14.99 PBK.

Published in Book Review

Skerries RNLI were tasked Wednesday morning (25 May) by Dublin Coast Guard following 999 calls reporting a paddle boarder in distress in the water off Bettystown beach.

Shortly before 11.30am the volunteers in Skerries launched their Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat Louis Simson. The crew plotted a course for Bettystown beach and proceeded as quickly as possible through difficult weather conditions.

Dublin Coast Guard had also tasked the Irish Coast Guard’s Dublin-based helicopter Rescue 116, and just as the lifeboat was arriving on scene they had begun winching a woman from the water.

She had been blown out to sea on her paddle board and was reportedly exhausted and very cold.

Rescue 116 then landed on the beach and with the assistance of Drogheda Coast Guard Unit the woman was transferred to an awaiting ambulance.



To prevent any hazards to navigation, or any additional 999 calls regarding the paddle board, Dublin Coast Guard requested its recovery and the lifeboat subsequently located it just over a mile away before returning to station.

Speaking about the callout, Skerries RNLI’s Gerry Canning said: “This is a great example of all the rescue services working together to ensure the best possible outcome.

“We would advise anyone intending to be on or near the water to check the weather and tides for the local area.”

Published in Rescue

Larne RNLI in Northern Ireland launched to the aid of a group of paddle boarders who were caught in an offshore breeze at the weekend.

The volunteer crew were requested to launch their inshore lifeboat by Belfast Coastguard at 2.09pm on Sunday (8 May) following a report that five people on two paddle boards were struggling to get back to shore.

The lifeboat was launched from East Antrim Boat Club into a moderate sea with an offshore breeze and made its way to the last reported location of the group at the entrance of Brown’s Bay off Islandmagee.

Having located the casualties and their paddle boards towards the middle of Brown’s Bay, the lifeboat crew observed that the offshore breeze was blowing both boards out to sea and that the group were having difficulty trying to return to safety.

Two of the group managed to make their own way back to the beach unaided, while the remaining three were transferred into the lifeboat.

Upon returning the casualties and their paddle boards to Brown’s Bay beach, they were handed into the care of Portmuck’s coastguard team.

Speaking following the callout, Larne RNLI helm Scott Leitch said: “We are very grateful to the member of the public who realised that something was wrong and called 999 and asked for the coastguard and we were delighted to help.

“As the weather gets warmer and more people travel to the coast, we would remind everyone planning a trip to sea or an activity on the water, to always carry a means of communication so they have a way of contacting the shore and to always wear a lifejacket or flotation device.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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A woman has been arrested after the death of a fourth person following a paddleboarding tragedy in South Wales last weekend.

As Wales Online reports, three people died at the scene after an incident on the morning of Saturday 30 October on the Cleddau River in Haverfordwest — north of Pembroke and just 100km across St George’s Channel from Rosslare.

The three were later named Nicola Wheatley (40), Morgan Rogers (24) and Paul O’Dwyer (42). O’Dwyer is said to have died while attempting to rescue the others.

A fourth person, Andrea Powell (41), was recovered from the scene in critical condition but Dyfed-Powys Police confirmed this morning (Saturday 6 November) that she had died in hospital.

In the same statement, the police also confirmed that they has arrested a woman from the South Wales area “on suspicion of gross negligence manslaughter as part of the investigation. She has been released under investigation.”

Wales Online has more on the story HERE.

Published in News Update
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Portrush RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat was launched this afternoon (Thursday 3 June) to reports of stand-up paddle boarders in difficulty off Ramore Head.

Due to the fact that the crew had already assembled for some training, they were able to launch immediately just before 3pm.

Conditions were optimal on Northern Ireland’s North Coast today, with excellent visibility and a smooth sea but a strong offshore wind which made it difficult for the five paddle boarders to return to shore.

When the lifeboat arrived on scene, three of the boarders were alongside a local fishing vessel and the lifeboat crew picked the remaining two up.

All five paddle boarders were transferred to the lifeboat and brought back to Portrush Harbour before 3.30pm, where they disembarked exhausted but otherwise well.

Beni McAllister, lifeboat operations manager at Portrush RNLI, said: “These paddle boarders were lucky, in that the offshore winds were quite strong and the five were exhausted trying to get back to shore.

“The local fishing boat was on scene and assisted until the lifeboat arrived. The fact that we had a crew ready to go meant we could respond very quickly.

“We would ask anyone planning a trip to sea to check the weather conditions, especially tides and winds to make sure it is safe to go out. Always have a means of communication with you and make sure someone knows when you will be expected back.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
Tagged under

Skerries RNLI rescued two stand-up paddle boarders after strong currents and Force 6 offshore winds prevented them from making their way back to shore.

Shortly before 2.30pm yesterday afternoon (Sunday 28 March), a retired Skerries RNLI volunteer noticed a man and woman struggling to make their way ashore on their paddle boards near Red Island in Skerries.

He alerted the lifeboat operations manager and following a brief discussion it was decided that the pair were not making any progress.

Dublin Coast Guard were contacted and the decision was taken to page the volunteer crew and launch the Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat Louis Simson.

The crew rounded the headland at Red Island and arrived on scene in a matter of minutes, funding the man and woman both extremely tired from fighting against the wind and tide.

They were taken on board the lifeboat along with their paddle boards. A first-aid assessment was carried out but aside from being exhausted they did not require any further medical assistance, and the pair were returned safely to the beach at the lifeboat station.

Speaking about the callout, volunteer lifeboat press officer Gerry Canning said: “It doesn’t matter how good your equipment is, or how prepared you are, things can still go wrong at sea.

“We would remind anyone going to sea to carry a means of contacting the shore for help, even if you do not intend to go far. Something as simple as a phone in a waterproof pouch can make all the difference.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
Tagged under

ITV Meridian reports on the rise of stand-up paddleboarding, or SUP, in the south of England as lockdown restrictions ease.

Record sales have been reported by paddleboard stockists as more and more people take up the relatively sedate watersport, which can be enjoyed on inland waterways while easily maintaining social distancing.

John Hibbard, chief executive of SUP brand Red Paddle, said: “Participation in paddleboarding has been rapidly growing over the past few years but with incredibly hot weather, gyms still closed, lockdown lifting but with social distance still required, paddleboarding has just taken off.”

Watersports training centres throughout the south and south-east of England have also experienced a surge in bookings for people of all ages eager to level up their SUP skills.

ITV Meridian has more on the story HERE.

Published in Watersport
Tagged under

Irish watersport school BigStyle has announced the development of a new hub for stand-up paddleboarding at Dun Laoghaire’s Coal Harbour.

The news comes just months after the business, which has expanded as far afield as East Africa, mooted plans for a more permanent base in Dun Laoghaire, where one of its founders grew up.

The new facility will be constructed from renovated shipping containers, in a similar fashion to the Irish Sailing Performance HQ opened in the harbour last year.

BigStyle says its new space will comprise ‘chill-out areas’, changing rooms, clothes and equipment storage, direct access to the water “and a whole lot of charm”, along the lines of its own Atlantic Lodge for the surfing community in Co Mayo.

BigStyle SUP hub DL

“Above all we want to be as environmentally conscious as possible — the building will be totally off grid with solar panels, a water harvester, 12v power and as little single use plastic as possible,” the business says.

While the main purpose of the space will be the SUP school, BigStyle also plans to have a surf shop and a simple coffee shop, and will also make room for the Clean Coasts initiative to spread awareness, launch clean-ups and hold various events.

The space is currently scheduled to open just over three months from now, at the beginning of May, “and we’re confident that this will help reinvigorate an often overlooked area of the harbour”, the company adds.

It’s not often a Notice to Mariners is issued by Bangor Harbour on Belfast Lough for a paddleboarding event but this was the case when a fundraiser was held in the Harbour on a very cold Sunday morning (1st Dec) writes Betty Armstrong

Stand Up Paddleboarding has taken off in Northern Ireland and a great turn out of SUPpers took part to support SUPforCancer. There were 38 adults, 12 children and three dogs. A substantial crowd watched from the Eisenhower Pier. It was organised by SUP Hub NI.

The event was sponsored by nine local business and plenty of prizes were won in what is believed to be the first-ever SUP Tombola where numbered tennis balls were scattered around the Harbour and paddlers had to race to scoop one up before a fellow paddler did. Their number correlated to a prize donated by one of the supporting businesses, a new and fun way for people to win prizes. There were special prizes for the Fastest Santa, Fastest ‘grim’ (kid), and best dressed.

In all £723 has been raised so far but the JustGiving link remains open in case readers wish to add to it here

Published in Belfast Lough

The Irish National Sailing & Powerboat School is hosting its annual Open Day this Sunday 5 May with opportunities to try sailing, kayaking or paddleboarding for only €10.

Children aged 7 and up and their families can get to grips with the INSS’ fleet of 1720 Sportboats, as well as easy-to-master sit-on-yop kayaks and popular stand-up paddleboards, guided by the school’s experienced instructors.

Waterproof overalls and lifejackets will be provided for sailors, wetsuits and buoyancy aids for kayakers and paddleboarders, and hot showers will be provided after your fun on the water — so all you need to bring is your enthusiasm!

Three times slots are available on the day (10am-12pm, 12.30pm-2.30pm and 3pm-5pm) and booking must be made in advance. For more details see the INSS website HERE.

Published in INSS
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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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