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Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) is expected to question a license application by the world’s largest farmed salmon producer for a fish farm in Ballinakill Bay off Cleggan in Connemara.

As The Sunday Independent reports today, Mowi Ireland plans to open public consultation shortly on its license application for a 22-cage fish farm in Ballinakill Bay.

The bay is within a special area of conservation, and part of a proposed natural heritage area.

The details of the project have been circulated to notifiable bodies, including IFI and the Sea Fisheries Protection Agency.

Both State bodies are believed to have serious reservations about the location due to potential impact on wild salmon and sea trout stocks.

Pot fishermen working in the area could also be impacted by an aquaculture project of this size, according to local interests.

Mowi Ireland, which is part of the Mowi Group Norwegian global seafood company, says it contributes over €20million to the domestic economy annually, working with some 920 Irish suppliers

Over the past 41 years, the company, formerly known as Fanad Fisheries and Marine Harvest, has employed 300 people between its salmon farms, hatcheries and processing facility in Donegal, Mayo, Galway, Cork and Kerry.

A Mowi Ireland spokesman confirmed that the company is “engaged in the initial stages of statutory consultation regarding a potential aquaculture facility off the Galway coast”.

“ The next steps will be set out by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine’s aquaculture and foreshore management division,” the spokesman said.

“The applicant will engage in a full round of public consultation in line with current aquaculture legislation,” the spokesman added.

IFI is the State agency responsible for the protection and conservation of freshwater fish and habitats, and has received a scientific report on the Mowi application for Ballinakill Bay.

IFI told The Sunday Independent it had "submitted observations on the application which will go to the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine who will decide on the application and whether the license should be issued or not".

However, IFI is already seeking a judicial review of a license granted by the Aquaculture License Appeals Board to Mowi for an 18-pen farm in Bantry Bay, west Cork.

Mowi was granted permission last July to harvest up to 2,800 tonnes of salmon over a 24-month production cycle, with no restriction on the timing of harvesting, at Shot Head in Bantry Bay.

The Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages group has written to Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue objecting to the new license application.

It argues that the proposed farm would have a “devastating impact on the Dawros (Kylemore River) – which flows into Ballinakill Bay- and on salmon and sea trout populations and angling tourism on the Delphi, Erriff, Culfin, Bunowen, Carrowinskey, Owenglen and Ballynahinch rivers.

Mowi Ireland’s managing director Jan Feenstra has announced plans to retire on July 1st, 2022, after 40 years working in salmon aquaculture.

Mowi CEO Ivan Vindheim has paid tribute to Feenstra, stating he is “ most grateful for Jan’s long tenure with our company, during a period that has seen our Irish business unit grow into a world-leading supplier of premium organic salmon”.

Read more in The Sunday Independent here 

Published in Aquaculture

A total of 9 start-ups with backgrounds in areas including engineering, IT and farming took part in BIM’s Innovation Studio at the RDI Hub in Killorglin this month.

The programme, formerly known as BIM’s Aquaculture Accelerator, is run by BIM in partnership with global accelerator Hatch and took part as an in-person event over two weeks.

To date, 38 such start-ups have taken part in BIM’s Innovation Studios, raising more than €9million and generating more than 40 jobs in aquatech in Ireland.

An Aquatech Community Day was held during this year’s Innovation Studio at which Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D. gave the opening address.

Guests at the Open Day event included aquaculture industry members, Irish and international investors, government representatives and the 2021 Innovation Studio participants plus alumni.

Speaking to the audience via a live-streamed video, Minister McConalogue referred to how major technological advances have been recurring features in our history and how this emerging innovation and new technology focus for the aquaculture industry is already transforming the industry, on this island and around the world.

The Minister also spoke of the role the Innovation Studios are playing to help achieve the ambitious goals set out in his Department’s Food Vision 2030 Strategy, namely ‘Attract global investment in aquaculture technology’ and to ‘Promote Ireland as a knowledge base for aquaculture technology and research and attract investment on our knowledge base’.

Jim O’Toole, CEO BIM, presented on the future of aquaculture in Ireland, highlighting Ireland’s unique and fortunate position to have a young, skilled and dynamic population, where the average age is 38 and where almost 6 in every ten adults has a third level education.

The continued purpose of BIM’s Innovation Studios is to create a dynamic environment for start-ups with new ideas for aquatech where they can innovate, experiment and test their ideas with leading experts from backgrounds in aquaculture, finance and marketing. The Studios are also giving these start-ups access to funding from venture capital - where they can secure early-stage funding quickly – and where they can quickly and with agility fill gaps in the global aquaculture market. The fastest growing protein sector in the world.

BIM is currently working to create a dedicated Irish Aquaculture Fund to further support the growing aquatech businesses that have already taken part in their Innovation Studios. Hatch are also in the process of raising a €75million fund for global aquaculture innovation.

The Innovation Studio is supported by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and is helping to nurture early-stage ideas in aquatech.

Published in Aquaculture
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Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue TD, today attended and addressed the Atlantic Stakeholder Platform Conference taking place in the Convention Centre, Dublin.

The conference is part of a new approach for a sustainable blue economy in the EU. 

Speaking on his way into the event, the Minister said “The western seaboard is an important part of the European Union’s maritime community and this is a welcome occasion to celebrate and acknowledge the work that is being done throughout the Atlantic area to ensure the region provides vision, strategic direction, and support to the maritime community both in the Atlantic region and further afield”.

The European Green Deal and the Recovery Plan for Europe will define the European economy for many years, or even decades. And the EU’s blue economy is fundamental to both efforts. 

Minister McConalogue addressing the ConferenceMinister McConalogue addressing the Conference

The Atlantic Stakeholder Platform Conference is an annual event of the Atlantic Strategy Committee which is being chaired by Ireland in 2021. This year, the event also celebrates 10 years of the Atlantic Strategy which aims to address challenges in the maritime sector for which collaborative efforts are required. The conference also features the 5th Atlantic Project Awards which recognises projects that contribute to the implementation of the goals and actions of the Atlantic Action Plan 2.0, adopted by the European Commission in July 2020.

The Minister commented that “the discussions and conclusions from today’s stakeholder conference will provide a rich source of information and knowledge to help underpin the implementation of the Atlantic Action Plan 2.0. Project collaboration is a key feature of the Atlantic Strategy and the projects being highlighted here today demonstrate all that can be achieved through collaborative efforts and working closely with our EU partners at all levels.”

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The Minister for the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD, today announced that he has received the final report of the Seafood Sector Task Force that he established in March 2021. The Taskforce examined the impacts on the fishing sector and coastal communities of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom. This final report follows an interim report submitted by the Task Force in June 2021.

The Task Force was chaired by Aidan Cotter, assisted by a steering group of Margaret Daly and Mícheal Ó Cinnéide, and comprised of ten representatives of the fishing sector, representatives of the aquaculture and seafood processing sectors, coastal communities, coastal local authorities and various State enterprise development agencies.

Following receipt of the report, Minister McConalogue said: “The departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement that was agreed at the end of 2020 have had some profoundly damaging effects for Ireland’s fishing sector and the coastal communities that depend on fishing. Such a once in a generation event required a collective response involving the seafood businesses and coastal communities that are impacted and the full range of State bodies with a role to play in our response. This is why I established the Seafood Sector Task Force in March of this year and after seven months of deliberations by the Task Force, I have today received and welcome its Final Report which charts a way forward for the sector and the coastal communities dependent upon it ”.

Minister McConalogue added: “I wish to thank Aidan Cotter for his leadership in chairing the Task Force and thank Margaret Daly and Mícheal Ó Cinnéide for their dedication and hard work in assisting Aidan in steering the work of the Task Force. I also wish to sincerely thank all of the members of the Task Force for their constructive engagement with the work of the Task Force and for the many hours and days they put into the process. Lastly, I thank BIM for their hard work as secretariat and I wish to acknowledge the importance of their research and analysis in informing the work of the Task Force”.

Minister McConalogue continued: “I have asked my Department to urgently examine the report with a view to quickly implementing a comprehensive response to the impacts of the TCA on our fishing sector and coastal communities. The recommended measures will be examined with particular regard to available funds and to the eligibility of the recommended measures for funding under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve, the European, Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund and with other relevant funding sources and with regard to State Aid rules and the Public Spending Code”.

The establishment of the Seafood Sector Taskforce is an Action in the Department’s Action Plan 2021 under the Strategic Goal to ‘Deliver a sustainable, competitive and innovative seafood sector, driven by a skilled workforce, delivering value added products in line with consumer demand’.

The full report of the Seafood Sector Task Force is available to download below

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Applications are being sought for a business diploma with a “salty air taste” run by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) and the Institute of Technology (IT) Carlow.

The closing date is September 3rd for prospective participants in BIM’s higher diploma in business in fisheries and aquaculture.

The course, now in its fifth year, is designed for those interested in management, financial, research and development or regulatory roles in fisheries, aquaculture, seafood processing and related fields.

It may also appeal to those looking to start an aquaculture or fisheries business company or expand an existing company into new markets, BIM and IT Carlow IT.

As Dick Bates - from a well known Kilmore Quay fishing family - explains, the course is the only one in Ireland of its type at third level dealing with fisheries and aquaculture.

It is “more accessible than ever now all over the coast and the offshore islands, due to continuing online delivery”, Bates says.

“My dad was a fisherman from Kilmore Quay, who through circumstances of the time could not progress beyond primary education,” he says.

“I am immensely proud to be involved with the higher diploma in a voluntary capacity in my retirement. I think he would approve,” Bates says.

“I really believe in the transformative powers of education and believe that the way that the fisheries sector has been ignored by the third level institutions in Ireland for so long is not right. I also believe that training is no substitute for education,” Bates adds.

Entry requirements are NFQ Level 7 or level 8 Award or equivalent in a related discipline or relevant industry experience.

Organisers say consideration will also be given to applicants who do not hold level 7 QQI academic qualifications but who have extensive industry experience.

Currently, all modules are being taught remotely due to Covid -19 restrictions on Fridays and Saturdays every second week.

Funding for the course fee and subsistence costs may be available through here

Published in Aquaculture
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The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD, today announced the award of €1 million in grants to 13 aquaculture enterprises under his Department’s European Maritime and Fisheries Fund Programme.

The grant awards will support total investment in these businesses of €2,917,572.

The grants are co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Union and are subject to terms and conditions.

Announcing the grants, Minister McConalogue said: “I am delighted to announce today €1 million in grant awards to a further 13 aquaculture investment projects, bringing the total awards in 2021 to €3.8 million to 57 aquaculture enterprises, supporting €10 million of investments in our aquaculture sector”. With these latest awards, the €30 million allocated to the aquaculture sector in my Department’s EMFF Programme is now fully committed. However, a new Seafood Development Programme for the 2021-27 period is being prepared and I have already put in place arrangements for an interim Seafood Capital Investment Scheme to ensure capital grants to aquaculture, fisheries and seafood processing enterprises continue to be available pending the completion and adoption of the new Programme. I understand that BIM intend to open that scheme to the aquaculture sector very shortly.

Grant Approvals - Sustainable Aquaculture Grant SchemeGrant Approvals - Sustainable Aquaculture Grant Scheme

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Ireland’s fast emergence as an innovation and new technology hub for a pioneering generation of aquaculture entrepreneurs is the focus of an event being held by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Ireland’s Seafood Development Agency, on Tuesday, 27 July at 13:00 GMT.

The hour-long event includes a panel of aquaculture entrepreneurs who all began their careers in different sectors and are now applying their skills to aqua-tech to help revolutionise the sector in Ireland and internationally.

Kate Dempsey, Aqualicense, Ronan Loftus, IndentiGEN, Ashie Norris, MOWI Genetics and Brian Wellis, CEO Wellfish Genetics will share their views on how the cross-pollination of ideas and skillsets is allowing Ireland’s aquaculture sector to grow beyond its primary production to the development of industry-leading technologies that could revolutionise the global blue economy.

Richard Donnelly, Shellfish and Innovation Manager, BIM will moderate this event that includes a Q&A session.

“In the long-term, we want Ireland to be the Silicon Valley of aquaculture,” Donnelly said. “BIM want to expand the service industry around aquaculture and see innovations in IT, feeding systems and treatments for disease. Ireland is well-placed to become a leader in this space.”

BIM is hosting its third Aquaculture Innovation Studio, this October. Ten start-up businesses from Ireland will have the opportunity to work directly with and receive mentorship from a global team of experts from aquaculture, fin-tech and marketing disciplines. The two-week programme is being run by aquaculture accelerator, Hatch and is being supported by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. Niall Rahilly, Hatch will be joining the panel discussion to share details on how to apply.

Published in Aquaculture
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Shellfish growers have welcomed a new research project which will measure the benefits to the coastal environment of their activity.

The ShellAqua project led by researchers at the Ryan Institute in NUI Galway (NUIG) aims to quantify the "benefits to human wellbeing provided by the natural environment from healthy ecosystems, potentially provided by shellfish aquaculture".

It has secured funding by Bord Iascaigh Mhara through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund funded Knowledge Gateway Scheme, and was developed from partnerships and engagement with industry through an Atlantic Area Interreg project.

It aims to develop an ecosystem services-based tool using operational and monitoring data for case-study shellfish aquaculture sites and develop life cycle datasets on mussel and oyster production.

This will allow for monitoring of environmental performance after the project is over.

The project also aims to assess the economic benefits and engage in knowledge transfer of methods, results and approaches.

Oyster seed ready for grading at Coney Island Shellfish. Photo: Dr Ronan Cooney, NUI GalwayOyster seed ready for grading at Coney Island Shellfish. Photo: Dr Ronan Cooney, NUI Galway

Industry partners supporting it include Coney Island Shellfish Ltd, Blackshell Farm, and Kelly Oysters.

The application was also supported by the Galway Bay community-based organisation Cuan Beo and the representative body for Irish Aquaculture, Irish Farmers’ Association Aquaculture.

Datasets and profiling of mussel (Mytilus edulis) and oyster (Crassostrea gigas) aquaculture will take place in Galway Bay, Clew Bay, Co Mayo, Sligo harbour and Drumcliffe bay, Co Sligo.

"The ShellAqua project is valuable for the future and helps take the industry in the direction we need to go," IFA Aquaculture chairman Michael Mulloy, who is owner of Blackshell Farm, said.

" The project will provide the tools we need to verify the sustainability of our industry,"he said.

Mussels long line: Organic rope grown mussels ready for harvest at Blackshell Fam Ltd. Photo: Dr Ronan Cooney, NUI GalwayMussels long line: Organic rope grown mussels ready for harvest at Blackshell Fam Ltd. Photo: Dr Ronan Cooney, NUI Galway

Alan Kennedy, MOREFISH and ShellAqua project manager at NUIG described it as "another example of how proactive engagement between researchers and the aquaculture sector can support the industry's sustainable development with significant potential benefits for broader society.”

Cuan Beo's Diarmuid Kelly said that "while we have always known the importance of having healthy bivalve populations within our bays, this project will provide us with the scientific evidence of the ecosystem services provided by such communities".

"It will also give us the necessary information needed to inform policymakers of the benefits of protecting shellfish waters," Kelly said.

Published in Aquaculture
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The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD, today announced the award of €1,105,022 in grants to 19 aquaculture and seafood processing enterprises under his Department’s European Maritime and Fisheries Fund Programme. The grant awards will support total investment in these businesses of €2,957,627. The grants are co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Union and are subject to terms and conditions.

Announcing the grants, Minister McConalogue said, “I am delighted to announce today grant awards to a further 16 aquaculture investment projects, adding to the grants to 28 aquaculture projects I announced on 5 March. Despite the uncertain business environment created by Brexit and Covid, our aquaculture sector is showing a very strong appetite to invest in and grow their businesses. Taken together, I have now announced some €2.8 million in grant awards to 44 aquaculture enterprises in 2021 and these awards are supporting €6.9 million of investments in our aquaculture sector”.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TDMinister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD

Minister McConalogue added: “County Donegal has accounted for 13 of the aquaculture investment projects supported so far in 2021, while there has been 8 in Kerry and 7 in Cork. Investments on oyster farms have dominated the aquaculture projects supported by my Department’s EMFF Programme in 2021 and some 11 of the 13 Donegal based projects supported have been investments in oyster farms. This places Donegal at the centre of our growing oyster sector”.

Grant Approvals - Sustainable Aquaculture Grant Scheme

Beneficiary

Location

Project

Total Investment

EMFF Grant

Allihies Seafood Limited

Cork

Development of a Seaweed Farm

€121,764

€60,882

Crookhaven Fishermen’s Association Ltd.

Dublin

Building of a seaweed grow-out farm

€143,963

€71,981

Atlantic Sea Farms Limited

Cork

Expansion of production capacity on existing mussel farm

€90,722

€36,289

Mr. Sam Lowes

Kerry

Set up a new oyster farm in Kenmare Bay

€14,019

€7,009

Bantry Marine Research Station Limited

Cork

Investment in farm infrastructure and equipment

€139,201

€55,680

Mr. Carl Daly

Kerry

Upgrading of mussel floatation barrels to conform with special area of conservation (SAC) recommendations.

€5,580

€2,231

Loughros Beg Specials Ltd

Donegal

Expansion and development of new oyster sites

€180,581

€72,232

Feirm Farraige Oilean Chliara Teoranta

Donegal

Pole System, AGD Bags & Workboat

€1,158,443

€347,533

Killary Fjord Shellfish Limited

Galway

Increase efficiency and to provide a safe clean environment for packing shellfish).

€94,783

€37,913

O’Sullivan McCarthy Mussel Development

Mayo

Purchase Bagging machine & conveyor for oyster processing

€17,470

€6,988

Realt Na Mara Shellfish Limited

Kerry

Purchase of barge, teleporter & generator to improve harvesting methods.

€159,237

€63,695

Tavne Ltd t/a Achill Oysters

of Mr. Hugh O’Malley

Clare

Capacity increase in oyster production and new equipment purchase

€14,950

€5,980

Sliogéisc na Rossan Teoranta

Donegal

Expansion of oyster production

€105,490

€42,196

Sliogéisc Inisheane Teoranta

Donegal

Capacity increase in oyster seed production

€18,000

€7,200

Total:

   

€2,264,203

€817,810


Grant Approvals - Knowledge Gateway Scheme

Beneficiary

Location

Project

Total Investment

EMFF Grant

Mr. Simon Hogan

Waterford

Professional advisory services to support establishment of Seaweed farm at Dungarvan Bay

€5,000

€2,500

NUI Galway

Galway

ShellAqua – The development of tools to quantify the ecosystem services provided by the shellfish aquaculture sector in Ireland

€162,729

€162,729

Total:

   

€167,729

€165,229


Grant Approvals - Seafood Processing Capital Investment Scheme

Beneficiary

Location

Project

Total Investment

EMFF Grant

Errigal Bay Limited

Donegal

Errigal Bay Capital Expenditure

€399,695

€84,183

Ilen Seafood Limited

Cork

Adding Value to Sprat

€63,000

€18,900

Atlantis Seafood

Wexford

Adding Value to Sprat

Fish Waste & Offal Utilisation

€63,000

€18,900

Total:

   

€525,695

€121,983

Published in Aquaculture
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A resolution by Green MEP for Ireland South, Grace O'Sullivan, calling on the Commission to block the use of a toxic neonicotinoid in the EU's fish farms will be voted this week by the European Parliament's Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety.

The Imidacloprid pesticide, which has been linked to biodiversity loss and a decline in bee populations, has been banned in the EU for certain agricultural uses on land. There is mounting evidence that the use of this neonicotinoid has a devastating impact on rivers and waterways and its use in Japan has been linked to a dramatic collapse of fish stocks.

Despite this, the European Commission is proposing to establish a Maximum Residue Level for Imidacloprid, which will clear the way for the pesticide's use in EU aquaculture as a treatment for sea lice.

Speaking before the Committee meeting today, Grace O'Sullivan said "I am very concerned by the Commission's proposal which would allow the use of dangerous neonicotinoids in fish farming. We know that this very chemical has devastating impacts on the environment and biodiversity. For this very reason the EU already banned its use on certain crops, a decision more recently upheld by the European Court of Justice. If Imidacloprid is too damaging to go on our crops, how can we accept it in our marine environment?"

The objection was considered in Committee on Thursday, 27 May 2021, and a vote will take place this morning, Friday, May 28th.

Published in Aquaculture
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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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