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#EithneEntersMed - Naval Service flagship LÉ Eithne (P31) this evening entered the Strait of Gibraltar on her way to assist in the Mediterranean's migrant crisis, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The deployment of the 1,800 tonnes HPV is to enable in the search and rescue (SAR) of refugee migrants from mostly small craft that face the danger of sinking and loss of life.

She had departed her Naval Base homeport of Haulbowline, Cork Harbour on Saturday. Since her departure three days ago at the naval base is where Minister of Defence Simon Coveney was joined by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny T.D. to meet the crew of 70 in total. Two crew members are from the Army Medical Corps to assist refugees in an ever worsening migrant crisis.

The Cork built flagship dating from 1984 was commissioned originally as a Helicpoter Patrol Vessel (HPV) hence the extensive aft-deck space and adjoining hanger which will be used by boarding migrants.

It is also understood that the three RIBs will provide rapid reaction launch missions to assist in SAR operations. The need for such RIB craft will step up efforts as the growing numbers of refugees flee north Africa having fled war-torn regions of the Middle East and swathes of northern Africa.

The RIBS will be launched to aid sinking craft laden with refugees. Many of these unseaworthy craft used by people-traffickers are then abandoned except for the 'human-cargo'  left to drift.

LÉ Eithne is expected to reach Italy this weekend (if not before) and to where the countries authorities will preside in the overall running of humanitarian operations.

This is the first time that an Irish Naval Service vessel has been involved in a humanitarian role overseas.

The base port to where LÉ Eithne is assigned has not been disclosed by the Department of Defence for operational security reasons. It is reported that the deployment duration in the Mediterranean is for two months and then the 80m flagship will be relieved by another Irish patrol vessel.

Published in Navy

#EithneMedCrisis – It has been confirmed LÉ Eithne (P31) is to depart Cork Harbour this morning on a humanitarian mission to the Mediterranean as previously reported on Afloat.ie following discussions held between Irish and Italian authorities, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The deployment of the 1,800 tonnes 'flagship' is for a period of six months by the Minister of Defence Simon Coveney T.D. was recently given approval by Government. Joining the Minister this morning in the Naval Base Haulbowline, Cork Harbour was An Taoiseach Enda Kenny T.D. who met the crew before the HPV vessel departs for the Mediterranean.

At the ceremony, the Minister stated that "The humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean is of great concern to Ireland. The quick response by the Irish Government in deciding to despatch a Naval Vessel highlights our commitment to assist with efforts to prevent further tragedy and loss of life at sea."

The Minister further stated that "The despatch of an Irish naval vessel represents a tangible and valuable Irish national contribution to assisting the Italian authorities in the humanitarian search and rescue operation."

A crew of 68 personnel from the Permanent Defence Force and 2 medical staff from the Army Medical Corps will assist Italian authorities in the carrying out of humanitarian search and rescue of refugees subject to the operational demands and requirements. 

It is understood this is the first time in almost 60 years that an Naval Service vessel is to be deployed for humanitarian purposes.

The Minister concluded by saying "I wish to commend the Defence Forces on their efficient operational and logistical planning for this deployment. I want to wish each and every crew member of L.É. Eithne, under the command of Commander Pearse O'Donnell, a safe and successful mission. You will be in our thoughts throughout the duration of your tour of duty."

The 31 year-old L.E.Eithne was launched in 1984 as a Helicopter Patrol Vessel (HPV) which used to carry a 'Dauphin' helicopter on the extensive aft- deck. Next to the aft-deck is an adjoining hanger which will further assist in her new role in the rescue of refugees.

Note to the left of the twin funnels (abreast) with the hanger area below is a RIB and associated derrick (click photo from previous report) which was not part of the original ship when completed by Verolme Cork Dockyard. It is understood this RIB that rests on a cradle structure brings to three RIB craft onboard. 

As the numbers of fleeing migrant refugees rises from war-torn regions in the Middle East and throughout northern swathes of the African continent, the EU has stepped up its efforts to assist authorities.

Among the nations already involved are the UK which has its 'flagship' HMS Bulwark carrying out rescue of refuges using the amphibious vessels fleet of landing craft.

Published in Navy

#EithneMedCrisis - Minister for Defence, Simon Conveney, T.D. has been given approval by the Government today (12 May) for the deployment of a Naval Service vessel to undertake humanitarian search and rescue missions as previously reported on Afloat.ie in the Mediterrranean.

The last Irish built naval service vessel L.E.Éithne (P31) dating from 1984 whose career was also previously reported will have a crew of around 65 personnel of the Permanent Defence Force are to undertake the task. The decision is subject to finalisation of appropriate arrangements with the Italian authorities.

Following the Government Decision the Minister commented "subject to finalisation of arrangements with the Italian authorities, the L.É. Eithne will be despatched to the Mediterranean without any delay. Operational and logistics planning for the deployment have been completed and the 80m vessel which has a range of 7,000nm at 15 knots is ready to deployed. The humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean is of great concern to Ireland and to our EU partners. I am anxious that we commence search and rescue activities in the Mediterranean as soon as it is feasible to do so".

The Minister went on to say that "discussions are at an advanced stage with the Italian authorities on arrangements covering a number of issues relating to the deployment of the Vessel. I expect that the Ship should depart the Naval Base in Haulbowline on Saturday, subject to confirmation of the proposed arrangements by the relevant Italian authorities".

Ireland will deploy L.É. Eithne to the Mediterranean for a period of up to six months over the summer period, subject to the operational demands and requirements arising in the theatre of operations, to assist the Italian authorities in the humanitarian search and rescue operations.

The Minister highlighted the Government's commitment to continuing Ireland's strong tradition of peacekeeping and stated that "the proposed deployment of an Irish Naval Service vessel to the Mediterranean will bring the number of Defence Forces personnel deployed overseas to approximately 500 Irish personnel."

 

Published in Navy

#CorkHarbour - Marine Minister Simon Coveney last Friday (1 May) officially re-opened the newly remediated Haulbowline Island Bridges at Cork Harbour.

The bridges have undergone extensive repairs and upgrades as part of the early preparatory phase of the Haulbowline Island Remediation Project.

This long-delayed project is set to transform the former Ispat/Irish Steel site on the island into a major public amenity area.

When completed, it will also provide a potential future development location for the Naval Service, which is headquartered on the island.

It is not yet known, however, whether future plans for the island will also include an 'Ocean Racing Yacht Hub' within the Naval Service base.

Reopening of the bridges, which represents the sole land-based road access point to the island, allows for the core remediation of the island's East Tip and the former factory site to proceed later in 2015 – a year after the EPA granted the necessary waste licence.

"The completion of this significant piece of infrastructural work, apart from being a major engineering achievement in its own right, paves the way for the long awaited core remediation work to proceed," said Minister Coveney.

"Once completed this project will usher in an entirely new phase of this island’s long and distinguished history and represents tangible evidence of the Government’s commitment to Cork Harbour and to the wider marine sector."

The minister commented Cork County Council, consultants RPS Consulting Engineers and contractors LM Keating Ltd for carrying out the work within a relatively tight timeframe and within budget.

He also paid tribute to the Naval Service for facilitating the refurbishment and for ensuring that its day-to-day work was not impacted throughout the busy construction phase. 

The upgrade was financed as part of a €40 million package signed off in October 2011 to clean up the toxic waste site at the former steelworks. Full details of the planned work are available at www.corkcoco.ie.

Published in Cork Harbour

#EithneMedCrisis - Naval Service HPV LÉ Eithne (P31) writes The Irish Times is to be dispatched to the Mediterranean Sea to participate in an EU search and rescue mission for migrants fleeing north Africa, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine has said.

Simon Coveney told RTÉ radio this Tuesday morning he hoped the LÉ Eithne would be ready to leave for the Mediterranean by (this) Friday, May 8th.

He said the vessel was being prepared in Haulbowline naval base in Cork harbour so that it could "successfully save people and drop them to local ports in the vicinity of the Mediterranean".

Mr Coveney said the Taoiseach was anxious to respond to the crisis in southern Europe by providing " humanitarian and emergency rescue response capacity".

The European Union has been struggling to forge a united response to the migration crisis currently sweeping across the Middle East and north Africa as desperate migrants flee their homes for refuge in Europe.

No decision has yet been made on Ireland's participation in a European pilot resettlement programme for migrants.

 

Published in Navy

#NavyMedCrisis - For first time Ireland is to participate in an EU search and rescue mission, following the Government's decision to send a fully crewed ship to the Mediterranean to help with the rescue of migrants fleeing north Africa.

The ship could be dispatched within weeks, officials said, and will work alongside Triton, the EU's search and rescue mission in the Mediterranean.

EU leaders have agreed to triple the funding allocated to Triton, with German chancellor Angela Merkel pledging to commit more money if necessary, in order to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean.

"If we need more money we will put up more money. We will not fail because of lack of funds," the German chancellor said in Brussels.

For much more on this story, The Irish Times reports HERE.

Published in Navy

#OPVJamesJoyce – The Naval Service lastest newbuild James Joyce is currently dealing with technical issues, though the Department of Defence in response to Afloat.ie say the OPV is due for delivery in the coming weeks, writes Jehan Ashmore.

She is the second of a trio of OPV90 class newbuilds that were ordered from Babcock Marine in the UK that saw L.E. Samuel Beckett (P61) enter service last year.

The north Devon shipyard is working on addressing the technical issues of James Joyce following recent completion of sea trails, noting the first sea-trials took place last month. 

Previously it was understood that the newbuild was to make a delivery voyage to Cork Harbour last month.

James Joyce is a direct replacement of the former 'Aoife' which was decommissioned last January after a career spanning 35 years.

Published in Navy

#haulbowline – Marine minister Simon Coveney says there has been no final decision taken on an 'Ocean Yacht Racing Hub' within the Naval Service base at Haulbowline island in Cork Harbour.

In this morning's Irish Times newspaper, marine correspondent Lorna Siggins writes that a British yacht racing consultancy has met Government agencies as part of a 'grand plan' for haulbowline island, site of a former steelworks site. The plan for the yacht base was first mooted by British solo racer Alex Thomson when he called into to Cork Harbour for repairs last April before heading across the Atlantic Ocean.

As Afloat.ie reported last October, Thomson, together with his shore manager Stuart Hosford, a Cork native, returned to the harbour and gave a public lecture about his solo sailing success that also included comment about the potential to develop the harbour site. The visit was part of an 'Innovation Week' in Cork where Cork Institute of Technology, the Irish Naval Service and University College Cork promoted the first Imerc Innovation Week.

Interest in the Haulbowline site focuses on the substantial graving dock where large yachts measuring up to over 100–foot in length or more could be lifted in an out of the water in a deep water environment with convenient access to the Atlantic. 

Haulbowline has been making headlines for years because of cancer-causing residue, left over from the Irish Steel plant that once occupied the land. It has been confirmed that a cache of 500,000 tonnes of slag and toxic waste material were buried at the former steelworks. Afloat reported on the hot site in the harbour in 2011.

More in the Irish Times on the Yacht Hub story here.

Published in Cork Harbour

#SupertrawlerAppeal - The Irish Times reports that the head of the company that owns the world's largest trawler said on Sunday that his board is considering appealing a €105,000 fine imposed by an Irish court.

Diederik Parlevliet, managing director of Dutch firm Parlevliet and Van der Plas which owns super-trawler Annelies Ilena, complained the skipper was ordered to pay "a vastly unproportionate" sum for a €30 breach of the law.

That's what he claimed the amount of illegal fish was worth on the trawler, which is a half-metre longer than pitch in Croke Park.

The Irish Navy and Sea Fisheries Protection officers boarded the 144.6-metre Annelies Ilena off Tory Island in November 2013. For more on this story, click HERE

In addition to reading more by Lorna Siggins of The Irish Times (yesterday) who reflected on the arrest of the supertrawler, the former Irish owned 'Altantic Dawn' and the background to the current test case for EU fishery Law.

Published in Fishing

#SupertrawlerArrest - Lorna Siggins of The Irish Times reflects on the 922nd boarding by a Naval Service fishery patrol in 2013 which could have been a routine affair, but for the vessel's size and history.

The 144-metre Dutch-registered Annelies Ilena is seven times the tonnage of the patrol ship, LÉ Roisín (P51) – and multiple times that of the rigid inflatable (RIB) deployed by Lieut Cdr Terry Ward to inspect it.

The ship, formerly the Irish-registered Atlantic Dawn, is one of the world's biggest fishing vessels, the largest super trawler and the biggest detention by the Naval Service to date.

It was among a fleet of Dutch vessels working some 100 nautical miles northwest of Tory Island when approached by a joint Naval Service/Sea Fisheries Protection Agency (SFPA) patrol on November 22nd, 2013.

The team intended to board several in the fleet in the knowledge that such ships flying other EU flags were notoriously hard to inspect. If caught, it could also be a test case for EU fishery law.

"Vessels with the ability to catch fish on an industrial scale in waters under our jurisdiction, but which almost never land here, pose particular challenges to ensure regulatory compliance," SFPA chair Susan Steele said at the time.

Had it been 20 miles north, it would have been in Scottish waters.

It was detained and escorted to Killybegs, Co Donegal, on suspicion of "high grading", a practice initiated, ironically, in response to stricter EU quota regulations. It involves retaining the most valuable fish and throwing smaller, less valuable, fish which are still over the minimum size back into sea.

For supertrawlers, it can make the difference of several hundred thousand euro per trip.

For much more on this story, click here.

Published in Fishing
Page 7 of 23

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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