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Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Displaying items by tag: Tom MacSweeney

This Saturday will be a special one in Cork City when a fleet of boats sails up the River Lee from Cobh to moor at the uppermost navigable point of the river which yachts can reach. Cruisers and dinghies will race the traditional Cobh-to-Blackrock Race from the Promenade on the riverfront at Cobh to the Port of Cork’s marina in the city centre. This is an annual tradition. Once it marked the end of the sailing season, but as that has extended into much later in the year, the race has become also a social gathering when motorboats and non-racers join the fleet and families are on the water for the day out, organised by Cove Sailing Club.
It is, as Aidan McAleavy of the Cove club said, “a truly spectacular sight to see a large fleet race to the city.”
It made me wonder why Cork, my native city, hasn’t done more to develop the maritime location with which it has been favoured. The River Lee is renowned in the city’s anthem - The Banks of My Own Lovely Lee and the river endows Cork with a network of waterways as it breaks into different channels to negotiate the city centre. However, in all the development of Cork, I do not see that a lot has been done to bring the riverscape to the forefront of city planning, nor do all citizens appreciate the beauty of the river, it seems, to judge by debris still dumped into it. With its bridges and river channels Cork should be a city where the riverscape is its dominant aspect. As shipping and the port is moved downriver there is talk, a lot of it, about development, but not a lot about the city’s maritime foundation, which could be further forgotten when shipping is moved away from the city centre.


Other Irish cities still have shipping visible to the citizenry – Dublin in particular but that city’s Council hasn’t done a lot either to focus public facilities on the riverfront which the Liffey has provided them .. Waterford has put in some effort with a marina and quayside public facilities, as well as a memorial to the Conningbeg and Formby, both vessels sunk during World War One, with 68 passengers and crew lost from Waterford and the South East…. However, the movement of shipping out of the city has left derelict sites… Limerick has turned part of its face to the river…. Galway has done a bit, but the culture of the Claddagh could be more focussed upon.
All Irish cities could take lessons from European municipalities like Barcelona and Hamburg where the riverfronts are central to city life……. Wouldn’t it be an advance in maritime appreciation of City Councils held meetings to discuss waterfront enhancement?
• Listen to THIS ISLAND NATION Podcast here

Published in Island Nation

Seamus Butler is, to me, a man who embodies all that is good about sailing. He has a deep love for the sport, he enjoys it and teaches those values to young sailors, building the future of sailing.

I found him after driving to the western shores of Mayo, along the side of beautiful Clew Bay, through Mulrany following the Bangor-Erris Road, Achill Island across the water, to Bellacrogher Boat Club. There I parked, walked around the side of a lake to the Bay of the Plunderer, boarded a rigid inflatable and was taken out to the most unique clubhouse/classroom in Ireland, floating on the lake with its own pontoon and training area.

To tell you more would take from the superb interview which Seamus gave me and which I urge you to listen to below.

He is a man to be admired, as are the club members who have supported the development of this unique club which this Summer hosted Mayo’s first Hobie Cat Championships. They were even listed as one of the European events of the season!

Seamus puts a lot of emphasis on safety in the training of young sailors and the value of that is underlined in another item in the programme, when the Chief Executive of Irish Water Safety criticises – and quite rightly in my opinion – that only one-fifth of the country’s primary schools are teaching swimming and the importance of safety on the water to pupils, evidently because the majority of teachers consider other sports more important. He outlines worrying statistics about the high number of anglers who have drowned and warns about the increased use of kayaks without proper training.

Completing the mix of an interesting programme, you can hear why the national museum favours wheels to support its exhibits, why brides loves the light it provides and about the Round Ireland walker who has raised €25,000 for the RNLI, as well as a bit about the history of shanties.
You’ll enjoy listening.

Published in Island Nation

There are moments and scenes which stand out in your mind. Stamped on mine is the day I went to a coastal village in West Cork and there, on the edge of a cliffside near Barryroe, close to Courtmacsherry Harbour, I saw the remains of a long-abandoned fishing family’s home, where two sons had died in the biggest sea battle of World War One – the Battle of Jutland on the thirty-first of May 1916. A short distance further up the same cliffside from that house, I was shown the home of another family whose son had died in the same battle. And, amazingly, in the parish of Barryroe, six men from the village had died in that sea battle, fought by a hundred thousand sailors in 250 ships of the British and German Navies. Eight thousand of those sailors were killed, including the six men from this village in West Cork. Another 29 sailors from Barryroe survived.

The interest of coastal communities in their history and culture, their pride in their heritage are impressive and are well underlined in this edition of my maritime programme, THIS ISLAND NATION, (click below for podcast) in the process of producing which I am fortunate to meet such communities.

In this edition I meet people from Courtmacsherry and Barryroe on the West Cork coastline and hear how they have researched and, as a result honoured, the amazing linkage between the area and the biggest sea battle of World War One – the Battle of Jutland, which is also described as the biggest sea battle ever. The statistics from it are, in terms of human destruction, terrible.

To walk into Lislevane Cemetery in Barryroe and see the memorial to those who fought and died at the Battle of Jutland is an emotional experience.

Published in Island Nation

Five years ago the Department of Transport told the United Nations agency dealing with safety at sea and the marine environment that it was preparing to ratify a treaty drawn up by the UN intended to control the spread of invasive marine species which could cause damage in Irish waters, possibly wiping out native marine species and causing damage to the marine environment generally.
Five years later, while 51 nations around the world have signed the Ballast Water Management Convention drawn up by the International Maritime Organisation, Ireland still hasn’t done so, despite a request from the Secretary General of the Organisation.
The treaty is designed to counter the threat to marine ecosystems caused by potentially invasive species carried across the oceans of the world in ships’ ballast water. Ballast water is essential to the safe and efficient operation of modern shipping, providing balance and stability to unladen and partly laden ships. Because shipping transports up to 90 per cent of the world’s traded commodities, it is reckoned to transfer up to 5 billion tonnes of ballast water around ports of the world every year and that is claimed by scientists to be the main cause of introducing non-native species from one country to another.
When Peru, this month, became the 51st State to accede to the Treaty to try to control this problem, I asked the International Maritime Organisation if Ireland had ratified…


“Not yet” I was told from IMO Headquarters in London, with the additional quote from their spokesperson… “but it is apparently intending to … Well that is what Ireland said in 2011” and they sent me a copy of Marine Notice No.47 of 2011 from the Department of Transport which stated that “Ireland’s maritime administration is at present preparing the legislation that is required and intends to ratify the Convention when this process is complete…”
Five years later, the IMO suggested to me that it might be worth asking why Ireland had not signed… I did and the Department told me…that “provision to give effect to the Convention was made in the Sea Pollution Miscellaneous Provisions Act of 2006. Now that’s ten years ago, but it seems a Statutory Instrument has been drafted by the Department to give effect to the Convention in Irish law. However, subject to some legal clarifications the Department expects that the Order will be enacted only …” shortly after the Convention comes into force…”

zebra mussel boat

Zebra mussels on the hull of a boat

Thereby hangs the rub…This treaty has actually been hanging around since 2004, that’s 12 years ago, even as the problems of invasive species increased with specific threats identified in Ireland by Government task forces, to freshwater river systems, lakes and coastal areas. To come into effect it needs a minimum of 30 States to approve it which would represent 35 per cent of world merchant shipping tonnage. 51 States have done so but they represent only 44.87 per cent of tonnage. Ireland’s access would only add .02 per cent tonnage, but the Secretary General of the IMO has appealed to every nation to support the Convention… so why is Ireland delaying, saying that it won’t sign until the Convention comes into force… in other words waiting for other nations to support it while Ireland won’t?
Senator Grace O’Sullivan is the Green Party’s spokesperson on the environment and says Ireland could push the treaty along if the Government would sign it, while Richie Flynn, Executive of IFA Aquaculture on behalf of fish farmers, isn’t surprised by the failure to sign, but it doesn’t please him.
Hear their views and the Podcast above.

Published in Island Nation

When that lovely piece of music, SAILING BY, rolls from the studio presentation desk through my headphones, I feel a sense of enjoyment at being able to bring a wide tapestry of news, information, stories about the culture, history and the maritime tradition to listeners so many of whom tell me that Ronnie Aldrich’s playing of the programme’s theme music on the LP ‘Sea Dreams’ sets the scene for them. I hope it does for you too because, sitting in the studios of Community Radio Youghal on the East Coast of County Cork, where the sea rolls in from Capel Island and other offshore points, my intention is to make  a programme bringing together the maritime community. The response is encouraging and I am grateful to listeners who regularly suggest story lines. The current edition is my 46th programme from the radio studios in Youghal, a town with a huge maritime tradition. It was once the biggest port in the Republic. It was a town with a great schooner tradition, trading to the British coast. There were tragedies when families suffered great losses. The town was chosen as the location for the filming of the famous ‘Moby Dick’ epic. It has gone through a period of industrial decline. Every year it remembers those who have died at sea. It is again looking to build up its maritime resources. It has potential as a cruising port-of-call.
I have devised the programme as Ireland’s maritime programme, broadcast through the community radio service and on Afloat.ie to highlight the importance of the maritime sector to an island nation. The programme of news, stories and information from around the Irish coastline, rivers and lakes, connects the ‘family of the sea’ and relates this connection to the oceans of the world.
In the current edition we travel from Bloody Foreland in County Donegal where we hear about navigational changes noted by the Commissioners of Irish Lights, through connections in Offaly to Dublin Port’s famous Diving Bell and a new song about it by an Irish balladeer who has moved from Liffeyside to Holland. He gives us the honour of being the first to broadcast his composition. With a call to Cork to meet ‘the Irish father of ocean energy,’ and hear how he is concerned about lack of public knowledge of the value of marine energy, we are told a story that has not been mentioned in other media as they recall the blowing up of Nelson’s Pillar in Dublin 50 years ago. There is much more to know about Admiral Nelson as we hear how he defended an Irish revolutionary who wanted to kill the King of England. Together with reports from lifeboat stations around the country and the dominance of Clare in lifesaving, all of these stories make up the wide maritime tapestry of the latest edition of THIS ISLAND NATION which you can hear here.
I hope, like myself, that you enjoy this voyage around the maritime sphere of Ireland and, if you would like to contact the programme, the Email address is: [email protected]

Published in Island Nation
24th February 2016

Will Titanic Really Sail Again?

It is probably only an “eccentric billionaire” who would come up with and finance a plan to build a second Titanic and operate it with a derivative of the name of the company which owned the original ill-fated vessel.

Clive Palmer, the Australian billionaire and Member of Parliament, has been described as such and, though his original intention to have the second Titanic sailing this year has had to be postponed, he is still determined that it will voyage the oceans.

On this edition of THIS ISLAND NATION he and several of his supporters outline why they believe it is a viable project and will sail.

CONSTRUCTION OF TITANIC II IN CHINA

Construction of Titanic II in China

Clive Palmer, is the man who devised the plan for the second TITANIC and is paying for its construction, which will cost at least €200m. He says that TITANIC II will begin its voyages in 2018. Originally the date set for the inaugural sailing by the Blue Star Line, which he established for the project, was during this year. However, there have been difficulties and some setbacks in the project. The first sailing has been deferred for two years, while construction is underway in China.

The name BLUE STAR LINE contrasts with the WHITE STAR LINE which owned the original TITANIC.

BLUE STAR has announced that Titanic II will offer a “true period experience,” including the original type of cramped quarters for Third Class passengers, but better for 2nd and very good for 1st Class, just like the original vessel. It won’t have any ‘sinking feeling,’ according to Mr.Palmer. Unlike the original ship, there will be no shortage of lifeboats and it will have modern maritime safety and navigational, engineering and other technology. It will carry 2,000 passengers and have a lifeboat space for everyone aboard – unlike the original Titanic, which four days into its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York, hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic, about 400 miles from Newfoundland, on the night of 14 April 1912 and, gradually through to the morning of 15 April, sank. There were 2,200 passengers and crew aboard. 1.503 died in the sinking. The ship was built at the Harland and Wolff yard in Belfast.

Southampton has been included as a port-of-call for the inaugural voyage. So far no mention has been made of calling to Cork Harbour, last port-of-call for the ill-fated original vessel, where TITANIC took aboard Irish passengers who joined by tender from Cobh.

Tom MacSweeney

• Listen to THIS ISLAND NATION above 

Published in Island Nation

There is a battle beginning in Cork Harbour which could become nasty and how it turns out will shape the future of what has been described as “the second most beautiful natural harbour in the world.” At issue is €500m for development and centres that could lead the way in international maritime research.
The money has been earmarked for developing a maritime tourist centre on Spike Island, an international sailing development on Haulbowline Island and the Cruise Liner Terminal at Cobh, as well as the Beaufort Centre, leading international marine energy research and the Irish Maritime and Energy Resource Cluster, another research centre, both at Ringaskiddy, where the National Maritime College, also developing its international reputation is on the same complex. Close by is the Naval Base on Haulbowline.

In what seems like questionable planning logic, the waste management company, Indaver, where it wants to build not one but two incinerators, one to treat hazardous waste and another non-hazardous, just across the road.
In case anyone raises the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) issue, the vista of Cork Harbour, as residents will tell you, now includes three huge wind turbines used by the several chemical factories at Ringaskiddy and an increasingly noisy port where stacks of containers will be part of the scenery following the development of the new container port there. Ringaskiddy has, arguably, suffered more than any village in Ireland from environmental problems caused by the concentration of so many chemical factories there. What infuriates residents is that they have fought off Indaver for 15 years, involving legal action, Court cases and a cost of over a million Euros raised from the community.

Incinerator PROTEST SIGN RINGASKIDDY

Incinerator protest sign at Ringaskiddy

That fury was evident on Monday night when several hundred crowded into Ringaskiddy Community Hall. So big was the attendance that people stood in corridors, entrances and even outside the building. Residents from communities all over Cork Harbour have voiced opposition and accused the company of trying to “bully their way” into the harbourside village. Minister Coveney, the Leader of Fianna Fail, Micheal Martin and other politicians have agreed with the residents that it is an abuse of democracy that a company can, as often as it wants, try to defeat the will of the people.
“I am fundamentally opposed to this development,” Minister Coveney told the meeting. He is a TD for the area, but got a hefty grilling about the incinerator proposal. He declared that he would object, as the FF Leader as other politicians have also pledged. He said he had told Indaver his views and that he feared their proposal would damage prospects for the €500m. investment in the harbour. “It is the wrong proposal, wrong place and wrong time and I say that as a person who loves Cork Harbour and has put a huge effort and time into trying to get what is right for it,” he said.
The battle now developing will have implications for sailing in the harbour and the clubs there, which include Cove, Monkstown Bay and the Royal Cork at Crosshaven. The new port could restrict the sailing area and the reputation of the ‘beautiful harbour’ could take a beating. The level of anger in the harbour is considerable.As I left the meeting on Monday night my last impression was seeing huge numbers of people queuing up to donate money to a campaign to stop Indaver and to lodge objections. Driving out of Ringaskiddy I saw the Minister for the Marine’s election poster proclaiming: “We’ll make Royal Cork great again.”
I wonder if that will happen, because it seems to me that a new ‘battle’ for the future of “the second most beautiful natural harbour in the world” is underway.

Published in Island Nation

My Podcast about membership of sailing and yacht clubs - GETTING MEMBERS IN – INSTEAD OF KEEPING PEOPLE OUT - drew a lot of attention and comment…. It seems to have touched a topic that quite a few people felt should be openly discussed……so it is appropriate that the oldest yacht club in the world, heading for its Tercentenary – 300 years in existence – considered the issue at its annual general meeting this week.
The out-going Admiral of the RCYC – the Royal Cork Yacht Club in Crosshaven - Pat Lyons, got directly to the centrality of the issue which is a problem for many clubs in sailing, though also not a problem exclusive to maritime sport.
While the club continues to attract new members, there is an on-going erosion of its long–term membership base, he said.
So, having congratulated the new RCYC Admiral, John Roche, on his appointment, I asked him if the club was any different from others around the country, facing membership problems. He takes over leadership of the RCYC for the next two years and told me that it was no different from any others in having to address issues of membership, with an ageing scenario also. A range of initiatives is being devised as a long-term strategy.
“These will benefit the club over time, placing our focus on remaining aware of and responding to, the evolving needs of the sailing community.”
Former Cork Port Harbour Master, Pat Farnan, was elected RCYC Vice-Admiral which places him in position to succeed to the office of Admiral in two years’ time.
Kieran O’Connell, who was re-elected as Rear Admiral Keel Boats at the RCYC agm, a tribute to his commitment and ability in running cruiser racing, is also Chairman of Cork Week.
John O’Connor is the club’s new Vice Admiral for non-racing cruising boats and Stephen O’Shaughnessy was elected to the role for dinghies.
Listen to the Podcast to hear the response of the oldest yacht club in the world to the membership issue and also about its plans for the Tercentenary in 2020 which are already being worked upon and the new competitions which will form part of this year’s Cork Week.

Published in Island Nation

It’s annual general meeting time and for most sailing clubs one of the big issues will be membership. Some readers and club members may prefer the description ‘yacht’ clubs, but ‘Sailing’ was chosen by the national association a few years ago to popularise the sport. Many of the bigger clubs still remain YCs and there is nothing inherently wrong in that, provided that the description doesn’t keep potential newcomers away from the sport rather than encouraging them into it.

Exclusivity may be more in the eye of the beholder of clubs these days, from the outside, rather than within the clubs themselves but, whether or not you like it being mentioned, it remains an issue in some places and our sport could do without it.

I remember when Marine Correspondent with RTE being abused by a rather obnoxious member of a Dun Laoghaire waterfront club who emerged from its impressive paladial-like frontage to assail the camera crew and myself who were filming the premises from the roadway and being told by him that we should not be there and should realise the club wished to have privacy from the public. We were there at the express request of the club for coverage of a racing event, but this individual had decided to express his own view of the exclusiveness of sailing. While myself being involved in the sport, I could rather bluntly tell him what to do with his opinion, the camera crew were left with a bad impression of sailing.

‘Private – members only’ signage outside some clubs has been criticised, but clubs are entitled to protect their premises. There are golf clubs just the same, as are some other sporting establishments … but sailing seems to have been a particular source of criticism.

SAILING YACHTING MEMBERSHIPSailing is a sport for life 

My media work has given me a access to clubs all over the country, so maybe I don’t experience what the general public does but it is reasonable to expect people to pay to become members and for the entitlement then to avail of the facilities provided. That is what a ‘club’ – a group or association of people with a common interest - is. Quite a few sailors are members of a few clubs. I am, of my village sailing club, Monkstown Bay, where I began in dinghies and also of the Royal Cork Yacht Club at Crosshaven. I went there for cruiser racing at a time when Monkstown sailed only dinghies. Nowadays it also races cruisers and I am happy to be a member of both….

While I have also experienced a welcome at clubs all over the country, it cannot be denied that the sport of sailing has an unfortunate legacy in a public impression left behind by a minority of individuals who did not represent it well, because they favoured exclusivity rather than inclusivity, which has to be the hallmark of the ‘sport for all …. and for life’ - which sailing should be in an island nation.

There is a challenge ahead for many sailing and yacht clubs as they hold their annual meetings – and that is to maintain their base of membership, much of which is ageing, so to encourage younger members and families to become and remain members and to get newcomers to join… thus ensuring the future of the sport….
Getting members in… instead of keeping people out….

Published in Island Nation

At “the turn of the year” as it is still called by many of the older generation, it is customary to look back at the year past and remember a few high points. There were many for me in compiling THIS ISLAND NATION, but on this week’s edition of my radio programme, I have opted for unusual sounds which stuck in my mind about the sea.

70 percent of the earth’s surface is covered by water and still little is known about the treasures hidden in the deep sea. That was exemplified for me during the year when I played those unusual ‘sounds of the sea’ which drew a very big response from listeners.

I had never before heard the sound of the haddock, a fish which is popular on dining menus. Did you know that the haddock, which we eat, is actually capable of making audio sounds? I didn’t, but you can hear the sound which this fish makes on this week’s programme and there are other fascinating sounds, including from whales and dolphins. Perhaps they are attempts to communicate with the human world.
Who knows?

If they are such an attempt, whales will not be getting a positive answer from the Japanese who, as the New Year approaches, have sent two whaling ships to Antarctica's Southern Ocean to resume the killing of whales. This is under the pretence of collecting scientific data, which is not accepted as a genuine reason for whaling by the international community, including Ireland, where our waters are a whale sanctuary.

Japan has ignored International Whaling Commission regulations and has announced it will kill 333 minke whales this year, under the guise of being for research purposes. What that research is, has not been disclosed. Surprise, surprise in that regard!

In previous years Japan has killed 935 whales. Australia has said it will take action against Japan. It is really time that the Japanese stopped lie-ing to the world about the fact that they are killing whales for the greed of commercial interests.

There are times in one’s life when an incident is recounted which makes a big impact and so it is in the true story told this week by Dick Robinson about a time when youngsters on Valentia Island learned the hard facts of life at sea, when they were trying to make the transition from being youths to doing what they had seen men do. The “boys thought they were men….” Dick recalls about the tragic incident at ‘the top of the tide’ on Valentia which was a personal experience for him that left an indelible memory.

VALENTIA ISLAND

Valentia Island And The Top Of The Tide - A Story On This Island Nation. Click above to listen

It happened as a boat was being moved in the harbour and, as John Hollahan surmises on the programme - “If old boats could talk, what a tale they would tell….”

Amongst other topics on the programme, Myles Kelly of Fisheries Ireland outlines new bass angling regulations that are coming into force and discusses the start of the salmon season.

Do listen to THIS ISLAND NATION above on the Afloat website and, for the New Year ahead, may I wish you all …”fair sailing….”

Published in Island Nation
Page 3 of 13

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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