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Displaying items by tag: Seafood

In its annual Business of Seafood Report, Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) announced that the Irish seafood economy grew by 15% in 2021, to €1.26bn.

Despite the dual challenges of Brexit and Covid-19, the industry recovered from the trading difficulties experienced in 2020, with a growth in GDP of 15.3% year-on-year – the highest value seen since 2016. This growth was driven by strong exports to the EU and Asia increasing the total value by 11% - to €674m.

Foodservice purchases of seafood in Ireland increased by 12% in 2021, following from a decline of 53% in 2020. Domestic consumption grew by 3% to €418 million, while the seafood balance of trade (exports – imports) also grew by 45%, driven by the strong export growth, particularly in EU markets. Overall investment in the sector increased during 2021 to €454 million (+8%), showing renewed confidence.

BIM Seafood report 2021 infographic

BIM chief executive Jim O’Toole said that the sector had proven to be highly resilient and innovative:

“The key insights from this report are the sector’s success in both identifying and driving opportunities in different markets along with an increase in value for some categories.

While Brexit, and the additional impacts of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement [agreed between the EU and the UK] reduced quotas for key species, Government support along with private investment helped mitigate some of these impacts.

“The industry continues to adapt, for example in the seafood-tech sector there are now over fifty companies employing more than 700 people from disciplines including engineering, fintech and marketing and we have seen turnover more than double in the past few years.

“Although we have seen significant growth last year there are further challenges now being encountered with cost increases for fuel, energy, and materials as a result of the conflict in Ukraine. Support to the industry to help withstand this economic shock will undoubtedly be required.”

Domestic hospitality sector

Seafood consumption grew by 3% in 2021, driven by a partial recovery in the domestic hospitality sector. For much of 2021 the hospitality sector was severely hampered in its operations due to Covid-19 health restrictions, but it did grow by 12% as these eased into the summer. Normal operating conditions should see strong growth and recovery in 2022.

Supply and demand on the international markets

While the volume of produced Irish organic salmon remained stable in 2021, the value decreased by 14%. This was due to increased international supply of organic salmon by competitor countries such as Norway and Scotland.

The reopening of the food service sectors internationally led to strong price growth in shellfish species such as crab, lobster, shrimp and razor clams - with prices increasing over 20%.

The impact of Brexit

Under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement there were substantial transfers of fish quotas from the EU to the UK. Ireland was heavily impacted by these quota transfers resulting in a reduction of volumes landed by Irish vessels of 7%. Despite this, total value of Irish landings grew by 2% driven by higher prices.

Brexit also introduced a change in trading patterns. Previously the UK had been the main source of seafood imports into Ireland. During 2021 there has been a shift away from sourcing from the UK. The EU is now the main import market for the first time, with the value of imports from the UK dropping by 57%.

Investment in the sector

In 2021, Government investment in the seafood sector continued to grow, amounting to €232 million, an increase of 11%. Support from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) along with national investment programmes contributed to a wide range of projects across all parts of the industry.

Private investment, after falling quite significantly in 2020, increased by €23 million (+5%), totalling €221 million, reflecting the ambition of the sector as it emerged from many challenges.

Employment in the seafood sector

Employment in the sector also remained stable in 2021 despite the hurdles encountered. A total of some 16,650 people were employed directly and indirectly, an increase in overall employment of 1%. This comprised 8,700 employed directly in fisheries, aquaculture and processing, with a further 8,000 in downstream employment in ancillary and support sectors.

Rising Costs – the new challenge

The price of marine diesel has increased by almost 150% since the start of the Ukrainian crisis, while the price of materials and equipment has also increased steeply. Coming so soon after the economic shocks of Covid-19 and Brexit, the resilience of the sector is going to be tested to the full during 2022 and beyond.

It will require a collective effort from the industry, backed with financial and technical support, to withstand this new challenge and remain profitable.

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A leading seafood writer has been awarded an honorary fellow by Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology.

Máirín Uí Chomáin is an educator, author, food activist, and a former chairperson of the Irish Food Writers’ Guild.

She is also a long-standing member of Slow Food Ireland, and has presented her own RTE series of television cookery programmes, Cuisine le Mairin’ and Encore Cuisine le Mairin.

She has published a number of cookery books and won the World Gourmand Award for her publication, “Irish Oyster Cuisine.”

Her latest book, “Celebrating Irish Salmon”, was published in November 2013 by Artisan House Editions, based in Connemara.

GMIT said that as an accomplished Gaeilgeoir, Máirín’s “passion for language and food is evident in the work she undertakes throughout the region”.

“She has judged numerous local and national competitions and is the Ambassador for the Connemara Mussel Festival since its inception. She is a frequent visitor to culinary classes in GMIT where she encourages and supports student learning,” it said.

GMIT president Dr Orla Flynn conferred Ms Uí Chomáin with the honorary fellowship late last month as one of five recipients selected for their “vast contribution to and success in business, education, public service and sport”.

The four other recipients were Dr Gay Corr, former principal of RTC Galway; Niamh Fahey, member of FA Women's Championship teams Liverpool and Arsenal and the Republic of lreland women's national football team, and former Galway Ladies Gaelic footballer; Michael Gilvarry, General Manager of CERENOVUS (part of Johnson & Johnson) and leading expert in medical technologies for the treatment of stroke; and Micheál Ó hUiguinn, former Mayor of Galway City, former Chair of GMIT Governing Body and Galway businessman.

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Some 87 per cent of regular seafood eaters like to know their fish was caught sustainably, a survey by the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) has found.

While quality is the main priority of Irish consumers (96%), knowing fish and shellfish has been caught legally (85%) and in a sustainable manner (87%) have emerged as major concerns, the State’s sea fisheries and seafood regulator says.

Some 87 per cent also prioritised price, while 92 per cent of those surveyed believe more should be done to safeguard the sustainability of Ireland’s marine resources, the survey found.

The research was conducted online by Amárach Research on a total sample of 1,500 adults from December 8th -21st, 2021.

The SFPA says the survey reported overwhelming support for the reporting of illegal fishing to the authorities (90%) with most (77%) consumers saying that they would not buy fish if they knew it was illegally caught.

Traceability is also a factor, especially amongst younger consumers, the SFPA says.

Almost half (48%) of those aged under 35 said that having greater confidence in the traceability of a product would encourage them to eat more fish regularly.

The survey found that most regular consumers of fish (82%), especially in coastal regions, are willing to change their buying habits to reduce their impact on marine resources.

Almost three quarters (seven out of ten respondents) stated they only want to buy fish in a way that does not adversely impact marine resources.

“Like many other parts of the economy, the sea-fisheries and seafood sector has seen some constriction of activity and sales due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, “SFPA authority member Tim Donovan said.

“The resilience of the sector and the potential for further development of domestic and overseas markets is widely acknowledged,” he said.

Consumer trust in the quality, provenance and safety of Ireland’s seafood produce is critical to achieving these ambitions and cannot be overstated,” he said.

“ It is essential to the reputation and future success of the sea-fisheries and seafood sectors which so many communities around the coast rely on for a living,” he added.

Ireland’s seafood economy is valued at an estimated €1.09bn n per annum with domestic consumption accounting for 37% of this figure, according to the latest figures from Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM)

Currently, the industry supports over 16,000 livelihoods with over 1,994 Irish-registered vessels, 309 aquaculture production units and 160 seafood processors, BIM states.

The SFPA says that anyone who wishes to report suspected illegal sea-fishing activity can contact its confidential line at 1800 76 76 76, by email at [email protected] or through the SFPA’s website, SFPA.ie/Confidential-Line.

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Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue is expected to present a memo on the Government’s seafood task force report to Cabinet this week.

Mr McConalogue is requesting that the Cabinet notes the report, while he awaits a review on its recommendations.

The task force report, published in early October, is recommending just over €423 million be given to the Irish fishing industry to help weather the impact of Brexit.

Highlights include awarding €66 million for a whitefish decommissioning scheme, €6 million to reduce the inshore fleet, and €3.7 million to remove inactive or off-register inshore vessels.

It also recommends €90 million for seafood processors, and a series of short term measures, including a €12 million annual tie-up of polyvalent vessels over two years.

It recommends an €8 million liquidity scheme for the pelagic sector, support for scallop vessels and vessels hit by exclusion from the Rockall squid fishery, and investment in aquaculture.

It also recommends investment in small scale public marine infrastructure, community-led local development, inshore marketing and processing capital.

"Its final report says the Irish seafood sector is “in the eye of the storm”

The proposed whitefish decommissioning scheme aims to remove 60 vessels of around 8,000 GT and 21,000 Kw at a premium of up to €12,000 per gross tonne, including “appropriate” payments to crew and scrapping costs.

The taskforce report was established by McConalogue earlier this year to examine the implications of the EU/UK Trade & Cooperation Agreement (TCA) for the fishing industry and coastal communities.

Its final report says the Irish seafood sector is “in the eye of the storm”.

Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue: The Seafood Taskforce has met 14 times and received 72 submissions from its members, and a further 27 through public consultation, since it began meeting last MarchMarine Minister Charlie McConalogue: The Seafood Taskforce has met 14 times and received 72 submissions from its members, and a further 27 through public consultation, since it began meeting last March

It says that the end of the Brexit withdrawal period has brought about the biggest change and disruption in EU-British relations in 50 years, across all aspects of trade and society.

The Irish fleet has lost access to 15% of its annual quota, including stocks of prawn, monkfish, and haddock, while Brexit has also hit Ireland’s €80m worth of seafood exports to Britain.

It says Irish seafood imports from Britain, valued at €219 million in 2018, have been disrupted, while vital seafood export routes, primarily the ’land-bridge’ via Britain, have been curtailed.

It also says established Irish/British links at scientific and policy levels in EU and ICES have been lost.

The task force has met 14 times and received 72 submissions from its members, and a further 27 through public consultation, since it began meeting last March.

An interim report published in June recommended establishment of a voluntary, temporary cessation scheme running to December 2021 as a first step.

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The Irish fisheries market both at home and abroad experienced an “extremely fragile” situation in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the latest Annual Review and Outlook for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Published today (Wednesday 10 November) by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the report details that exports from a sector that employs 16,400 people “directly and downstream” totalled €531 million in 2020 — down nearly 8% on 2019.

“The sector has been severely impacted by COVID-19 which has affected the performance of all species across the sector, particularly within the shellfish category which suffered a 30% reduction in export values,” it said.

France — which is Ireland’s largest export market for seafood, accounting for 11% of exports in 2020 — was “extremely challenging for Irish exporters” last year, with values declining by almost one fifth, or €118 million — driven largely by pandemic-enforced closures across the hospitality sector. A similar depression was experienced across the other main EU markets of Spain, Italy, Germany and Poland.

Exports to Asia also “suffered major declines” last year, with exports of €46 million representing a 48% decline on 2019. Exports to China in particular fell by whopping 70%, and a rise in logistical costs also had a “negative impact” on returns.

It was a bad year for the Irish oyster sector, too, with export value (-30%) and volume (-29%) both down significantly. The only growth was experienced in exports to South Korea and Italy; however these markets “are relatively small”, the report notes.

Salmon exports told a brighter story in 2020, with values rising by 14% with an 11% growth in volume. Poland has now overtaken France as the largest market for Irish salmon, with exports almost doubling, while exports to Germany rose by 10%.

Regarding post-Brexit changes to Ireland’s quota share under the Common Fisheries Policy, the report outlines how quota balancing is being implemented on a phased basis. Pelagic stocks were quota balanced for the years 2018 and 2019, while balancing for the five key demersal (whitefish) stocks was implemented in 2020.

“At this point, it is not clear how the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU will be effectively managed from a fisheries perspective,” the report warns.

Despite the difficulties experienced during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, Ireland’s fishing industry “has continued to keep food in our shops and on our tables during this extraordinary time”.

The report adds: “This has highlighted the vital role that the fishing industry plays in the food chain. This, in turn, underscores the importance of ensuring the sustainability of our fish stocks.”

Further details — including more detailed breakdowns of seafood exports by category, shellfish licensing and a briefing on the Clean Ocean Initiative — can be found in the Annual Review and Outlook for Agriculture, Food and the Marine which is available to download from Gov.ie HERE.

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The Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D., today addressed the inaugural meeting of the Seafood Sector Taskforce, established by the Minister to make recommendations on measures to mitigate the impacts on the Irish Fishing industry, and on the coastal communities that depend on fisheries, of the fish quota share reductions arising from the EU/UK Trade & Cooperation Agreement.

Addressing the Taskforce, Minister McConalogue said, “The outcome of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement will lead to a loss of €43 million per year in fish quotas for our fisheries sector, with knock-on effects on marine support industries and our coastal communities. The quota reductions in some of our most important stocks will be felt immediately by our fishing industry when the full annual EU quotas for 2021 are determined shortly. The impacts for Ireland’s fishing sector are disproportionate compared to other Member States and I again call on the Commission and other Member States to find a more equitable solution to the quota transfers to the UK.”

Minister McConalogue added, “I can assure this Task Force that the Government will work to ensure that the fisheries sector, and the coastal communities that depend on it, are supported through the period ahead. The Work of this Task Force will inform funding priorities for the coming years under my Department’s Seafood Development Programme 2021-27 and under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve.

The Seafood Sector Taskforce

The Seafood Sector Taskforce is chaired by Aidan Cotter, barrister and former CEO of Bord Bia. Mr Cotter will be assisted by a steering group comprised of Margaret Daly - Deputy CEO of seafood processor Errigal Bay Ltd and Mícheal Ó Cinnéide, member of the Aquaculture Licensing Appeals Board and former Director of the EPA and Marine Institute.

Chairperson – Aidan Cotter

Steering Group - Margaret Daly and Mícheal Ó Cinnéide

Members

  • · Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation
  • · Irish Fish Producers Organisation
  • · Irish South & West Fishermen’s Organisation
  • · Irish South & East Fishermen’s Organisation
  • · Irish Islands Marine Resource Organisation PO
  • · National Inshore Fisheries Forum
  • · 4 main Fishermen’s Co-operatives (Castletownbere, Foyle, Clogherhead, Galway & Aran)
  • · Irish Fish Processors & Exporters Organisation
  • · Irish farmers Association (aquaculture branch)
  • · Fisheries Local Action Groups (1 representative of the 7 FLAGs)
  • · Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine
  • · Bord Iascaigh Mhara (secretariat)
  • · Bord Bia
  • · Enterprise Ireland
  • · Údarás na Gaeltachta
  • · Tourism Ireland
  • · Coastal Local Authorities (2)
  • · Irish Local Development Network
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Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue has announced the establishment of a Seafood Sector Taskforce, which has been charged with making recommendations on measures to mitigate the impact of upcoming fish quota share reductions.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the Irish fishing fleet faces a quota ‘payback’ that will see allowances for a number of key species, such as mackerel and prawns, slashed by thousands of tonnes — a significant shock to the industry and the coastal communities that depends on fisheries.

Speaking today, Friday 26 February, Minister McConalogue said: “These quota reductions will begin in 2021 and on a phased basis will result in a loss to Ireland of stocks worth €43 million per annum by 2026 or a 15% reduction overall in Irish fish quotas.

“The effects are immediate, with 60% of those reductions to take effect from April.

“The outcome of Brexit could have been much worse for the Irish Fishing industry in a no-deal scenario, with lack of access to UK waters for one third of our fish catches that occur in UK waters, or increased displacement of the Irish and other EU fleets into our waters.

“Nevertheless, the agreed EU/UK outcome will still have a significant impact for our fishing fleet and the coastal communities built around it.”

Former Bord Bia chief executive Aidan Cotter will chair the taskforce, which the minister has entrusted “to examine the impacts on our fishing fleet and coastal communities and report back to me with recommendations on how best to mitigate these”.

Cotter will be assisted by a steering group comprising Margaret Daly, deputy CEO of seafood processor Errigal Bay Ltd, and Mícheal Ó Cinnéide, former deputy CEO of the EPA, former director in the Marine Institute and presently on the board of the Aquaculture Licensing Appeals Board.

The taskforce’s interim report, due within two months, will focus on “recommended arrangements for a voluntary fleet tie-up scheme to temporarily counter the impact of the reduction in quotas, which will begin to occur from April,” the minister said.

Its final report is due within four months, and is expected to provide recommendations for a voluntary fleet decommissioning scheme, “to adjust and re-balance certain segments of the fleet with the reduced fishing opportunities available”.

The Taskforce has also been asked to consider and recommend “constructive actions” to deal with “the inequitable relative contribution of quota share by Ireland in the EU/UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement”.

Minister McConalogue also stated that the Government “is committed to providing financial supports to those most affected to help our seafood sector and coastal communities adjust to this blow”.

Invitations to participate in the Seafood Sector Taskforce have been issued to the following organisations:

  • Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation
  • Irish Fish Producers Organisation
  • Irish South & West Fishermen’s Organisation
  • Irish South & East Fishermen’s Organisation
  • Irish Islands Marine Resource Organisation PO
  • National Inshore Fisheries Forum
  • Fishermen’s Co-operatives (2 representatives of the 4 main Coops)
  • Irish Fish Processors & Exporters Organisation
  • Irish farmers Association (aquaculture branch)
  • Fisheries Local Action Groups (1 representative of the 7 FLAGs)
  • Department of Public Expenditure and Reform
  • Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine
  • Bord Iascaigh Mhara (secretariat)
  • Enterprise Ireland
  • Tourism Ireland
  • Local Government Management Agency (two coastal local authority representatives)
  • Údarás na Gaeltachta representative
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Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue has announced €4.9 million in new investment by nine seafood processing companies, with his department’s European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) programme providing over €1 million in grants.

Announcing the grants, Minister McConalogue said: “I am very pleased to support these nine seafood enterprises to further grow their business.

“These are particularly challenging times with both Covid and Brexit impacting on markets and the ongoing capital investment by our seafood sector is evidence of its resilience and its optimism for future growth prospects.”

The minister added: “My department’s European Maritime and Fisheries Fund programme has provided in excess of €230 million over the past seven years to support the sustainable growth of our seafood sector.

“A new Seafood Development Programme for the 2021-27 period is presently being drafted and I expect it to commence later this year.”

The €1,011,184 in grants are co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Union and are subject to terms and conditions.

Under the Seafood Processing Capital Investment Scheme, Good Fish Processing Ltd in Cork receives €42,228 towards information systems, for a total investment of €140,759.

Also in Cork, the Castletownbere Fishermens Co-operative Society has been granted €257,747 (total investment €859,157) for a spiral freezer, deheading machine and associated works.

And Senahoek Trading Ltd gets €448,364 (total investment €2,989,091) towards construction of a factory including cold store.

Howth, Co Dublin fishmongers Nicky’s Plaice Ltd will get €9,900 (total investment €41,000) towards an ice machine and pin boner, while Kerry Fish (Ire) Unlimited Company receives €185,775 (total investment €723,746) for reconfiguration of its ‘high care’ department and the purchase of an automated smoked salmon slicing line.

Elsewhere, Dundalk Bay Seafoods Ltd in Co Louth receives €19,410 (total €64,700) for investment in an efficient and environmentally friendly retail production line.

Under the Seafood Innovation & Business Planning Scheme, Goatsbridge Fish Processors Ltd in Kilkenny will receive €19,500 (total investment €39,000) for strategic advisory services enhancing financial planning and company structure in Ireland and the UK, while Sofrimar Unlimited Company in Wexford gets €28,260 (total investment €56,520) for trials and rental of equipment for converting waste products to powder for use in horticulture.

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Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Ireland’s Seafood Development Agency, has extended the deadline of its National Seafood Survey by two weeks in an effort to increase response rates. The survey is designed to highlight the importance of fishing to families and their wider communities in Ireland.

More than one in ten (14%) of Ireland’s 1400 under 10m inshore fishing vessel owners have already completed the survey. All remaining under 10-metre vessel owners now have an opportunity to complete the survey until Monday, 8 February 2021.

Vera O’Donovan, Regional Development Officer, BIM spoke of the importance of inshore fisheries to coastal communities in Ireland and said:

“There are many competing interests for the marine resource. It's vital that inshore fisheries can co-exist in the marine space and have their economic and social contribution to rural society acknowledged fully.”

Inclusion of under 10-metre vessel data will help to provide a more accurate account of the economic contribution that the inshore sector brings to coastal communities and to inform both National and EU policymakers. 

A copy of the survey and a freepost envelope for its return was posted to every under ten-metre fisher in Ireland in December. The survey can also be completed online and emailed to [email protected]. For more details or to download a copy of the survey click here

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Marine Minister Michael Creed has welcomed €3.5 million of new investment in six seafood processing companies.

Announcing the funding yesterday, Thursday 11 June, Minister Creed said: “In these very challenging times for business generally and notably our seafood sector, I am delighted to support these six companies in building for the future.

“With our own economy and European and world markets reopening, we can have optimism again for future prosperity and growth.”

Carr & Sons in Mayo receives more than €387,000 for an extension to modernise their processing facilities, while Sofrimar in Wexford gets over €562,000 for its automated processing and packing line plans, and Seafood Processors Ltd in Co Louth benefits from €370,000 towards white fish filleting processing technology.

Elsewhere, Good Fish Processing in Co Cork gets €396,000 towards packaging capacity and efficiency, Keohane Seafood also in Cork will improve factory flow, efficiency and sustainability with its €1.44m investment, and the West Cork Export Market Collective (comprising Union Hall Smoked Fish Ltd and Keohane Seafood) receives more than €353,000 for leveraging collaboration to boost export sales.

“These six companies are preparing their businesses to grow exports and value because they have the confidence to know that our seafood sector is a high growth sector and that it will resume its long-term growth pattern now that markets are getting over the recent temporary, albeit severe difficulties,” the minister said.

“The national strategy is to add value wherever possible to our seafood products to ensure those products are well placed in the market. These grants will assist these Irish seafood companies to deliver on that strategy.”

Minister Creed added that his departmets’s present EMFF programme “is ready to assist seafood companies get back to business with capital, innovation, marketing and other supports”.

“From next year, my department’s new EMFF programme for the 2021-27 period will commence and will play a major role in assisting the recovery and renewed growth of our seafood sector,” he said.

Grants of €1,081,192 from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) programme make up a portion of the total investment. These grants are co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Union and are subject to terms and conditions.

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Ireland's Offshore Renewable Energy

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

Offshore Renewable Energy FAQs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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