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Further to previous installation works on the Havhingsten fibre optic telecommunication cable system in the Irish Sea, post-lay inspection and burial (PLIB) of the cable is planned to begin later this week.

Works outside Irish and Isle of Man territorial waters are will start on Friday 14 January and continue until next Thursday 20 January, subject to weather.

It is advised that extra care is taken when vessels are operating near this area and that no vessel should trawl within 500m.

Installation will be via industry-standard burial tools including water jetting with remote operated vehicle (ROV). The target cable burial depth is 1.5m below seabed level in the region.

There will be two locations where PLIB will be performed: at Final Splice (FS) location outside Irish territorial waters, and at Branching Unit (BU) location outside of Isle of Man territorial waters.

The operations will be conducted by the cable installation vessel CS Ile d’Aix (callsign FICI) which will be working on a 24-hour basis, and will display appropriate day shapes and lights during reduced visibility and night operations.

All vessels operating within this area are requested to keep their distance and pass at minimum speed to reduce vessel wash.

For more information, including coordinates and contact details, see Marine Notice No 01 of 2022 attached below.

Published in News Update

The latest Marine Notice from the Department of Transport advises that the Informing and Mapping the Offshore Renewable Environment (I-MORE) Survey will be carried out in the North Irish Sea from early in the New Year.

From 4-13 January 2022, the RV Celtic Explorer (callsign EIGB) will carry out the survey on a 24-hour schedule using the Manta–200 Seabed Cone Penetration Testing (CPT) system.

The aim of this survey is to gather critical seabed data to feed into existing postdoc and group research across a range of disciplines, including marine geotechnics and physical geology, to better understand the geology and engineering properties of the sediment in this area and to identify potential geohazards to infrastructure development.

Map of the proposed iMORE survey areaMap of the proposed iMORE survey area

Coodinates of the survey area and other details can be found in Marine Notice No 66 of 2021, available to download below.

Published in Marine Science

Further to last week’s Marine Notice advising of the latest works on the Havhingsten fibre optic telecommunication cable system this month, rock placement activities in the Irish Sea are also planned from this weekend.

There are four crossing locations in the Irish Sea where rock placement will be installed from this Saturday 11 December, but only one will be within the Irish EEZ, at the offshore extent.

Rock placement will be via industry standard, and activity at each site will last for up to 15 hours.

The operations will be conducted by the cable installation vessel Stornes (callsign PCKX), which will operate on a 24-hour basis and display appropriate day shapes and lights during reduced visibility and night operations.

All vessels operating within this area are requested to keep their distance and pass at minimum speed to reduce vessel wash.

Further details, including relevant coordinates and contact information, can be found in Marine Notice No 65 of 2021 which is available to download below.

Published in News Update

Installation of the Havhingsten fibre optic telecommunication cable system in the Irish Sea inside of the Irish 12-nautical-mile zone is planned for this month.

It follows works this past autumn in the Irish Sea outside of territorial waters, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Works are planned to start on Monday 13 December, subject to weather and full execution of the foreshore licence.

The latest operations on the cable route for the western Irish Sea region, which lands at Loughshinny, will be conducted by the cable installation vessel CS Île de Batz (callsign FOSU).

It will be working on a 24-hour basis and will display appropriate day shapes and lights during reduced visibility and night operations.

All other vessels operating within its work area are requested to keep their distance and pass at minimum speed to reduce vessel wash.

Details of the coordinates of the work area and contact information can be found in Marine Notice No 64 of 2021, which can be downloaded below.

Published in News Update

The second leg of the MOVE 2 survey of the mobility of sediment waves and sand banks will be carried out in the Irish Sea off Wicklow and Wexford from next weekend.

As noted previously on Afloat.ie, reporting on the survey in March this year, it will involve the use of multi-beam echo sounders and sub-bottom profilers at various sites, and sediment grabs samples will also be taken.

Survey operations will be carried out on a 24-hour schedule between Saturday 4 and Monday 13 December by the RV Celtic Voyager (callsign EIQN), which will be displaying appropriate lights and signals.

This survey is being carried out in support of ongoing research at the SFI Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine research and innovation (MaREI) and the Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences (iCRAG).

More on the survey including coordinates and contact details can be found in Marine Notice No 63 of 2021, a PDF of which is available to download below.

Published in News Update

Installation of the Havhingsten fibre optic telecommunication cable system is planned from Monday 23 August until Thursday 23 September in the Irish Sea outside of the Irish 12-nautical-mile zone.

Works within 12 nautical miles of Ireland’s mainland are planned from December 2021 subject to weather and operational conditions.

There will also be associated rock placement operations post-cable installation at four locations within the western Irish Sea and these works are expected in between October and December, weather permitting.

The entire cable system will comprise marine elements that pass from Denmark to the UK (NE region), and from the UK (NW) to Ireland, with two segments installed into landfalls on the Isle of Man. The cable route for the western Irish Sea region lands at Loughshinny in north Co Dublin.

Installation will be via industry standard burial tools including water jetting and ploughing. Target cable burial depth is 1.5m below seabed level in the region.

It is anticipated that installation operations in UK/Irish waters will occupy up to a maximum 500m width (250m either side of cable). The cable itself will occupy only 40mm of the seabed. Expected speed of installation will be approximately 17km per day.

Works will be conducted by the cable installation vessel CS Recorder (callsign MATL3) which will operate 24 hours a day and will display appropriate day shapes and lights during reduced visibility and night operations.

All vessels operating within its vicinity are requested to keep their distance, and pass at minimum speed to reduce vessel wash.

Full details, including coordinates for the work areas and rock armour placements, are included in Marine Notice No 45 of 2021 which can be downloaded below.

Published in News Update

At a distance of 50-miles, a tunnel under the Irish Sea, connecting Wales and Ireland has been suggested UK Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Shapps suggested a tunnel between Wales and Ireland as an alternative to Prime Minister Boris Johnson's scheme to link Scotland with Northern Ireland.

When questioned on the idea of linking Northern Ireland with mainland Britain, he said: "Why not?"

The Daily Express reported that the tunnel could be from Holyhead to Dublin and had been previously been priced at £15bn. It would be twice as long as the Channel Tunnel linking Kent and France (see other story on Irish Ferries). 

In the Sunday Times, Political Editor Tim Shipman reported that a feasibility study could be launched in the next few weeks.

NorthWalesLive has more on this story.

Published in Dublin Bay
Tagged under

Following the recent notice of geophysical surveys for the Codling Wind Park comes news of a series of geotechnical surveys in the Irish Sea off Wicklow for the project set to commence tomorrow, Monday 26 April.

Works to characterise the wind park area will be conducted until Saturday 26 June, weather permitting, from the LB Jill (callsign WDH 6208) on a 24-hour basis. The vessel will display appropriate lights and shapes.

As the LB Jill will be restricted in ability to manoeuvre, all vessels operating within the work area are requested to keep their distance, maintaining a safety zone around the geotechnical investigation vessel, and pass at minimum speed to reduce vessel wash.

Further details including coordinates for the survey works are included in Marine Notice No 28 of 2021, which can be downloaded below.

Published in Coastal Notes

The Department of Transport has been advised that Codling Wind Park Limited intend to conduct a series of geophysical surveys in the Irish Sea off Dublin and Wicklow from Wednesday 14 April to Wednesday 26 May, weather permitting.

This work is intended to provide options for export cable routes to possible landfall options in the areas of Poolbeg, Dun Laoghaire, Greystones and Wicklow.

A total of two vessels will be working on the project. Arctic Ocean (callsign OZGP2) will undertake geophysical operations to characterise the export cable sites (weather permitting). Survey operations will be conducted on a 24-hour basis.

Meanwhile, Faraday (callsign MJZX5) will undertake geophysical operations (weather permitting). Survey operations will be conducted on a 12-hour basis.

Throughout survey operations, the vessels will be displaying the appropriate lights and shapes. As both vessels will be towing survey equipment, they will also require large turning circles and will be restricted in their ability to manoeuvre.

All vessels operating within the work area are requested to keep their distance, maintaining at least the 500m safety zone around the survey vessel and pass at minimum speed to reduce vessel wash.

Further details including coordinated and contacts are included in Marine Notice No 21 of 2021, a PDF of which can be downloaded below.

Published in Coastal Notes

Two ex-presidents of the UK’s Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) have been tasked with carrying out a study on the feasibility of an Irish Sea crossing between Britain and Northern Ireland.

As industry publication New Civil Engineer reports, Douglas Oakervee and Gordon Masterson have been charged by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson with evaluating the various proposals.

These include an “underground roundabout” beneath the Isle of Man that would connect separate tunnels Northern Ireland, Scotland and England — an idea inspired by a similar project in the Faroe Islands.

Another proposal for a Northern Ireland-Scotland tunnel suggests that it could help create a new “capital cities axis” stretching from Dublin to Edinburgh.

The possibility of a road-rail link between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain returned to the agenda earlier this year following Brexit, with one of the options mooted being a a “floating underwater tunnel” along the sea bed, as previously discussed by our own WM Nixon.

Tagged under
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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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