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#marinescience – The annual Marine Institute bursary programme gets underway this month (June, 2014) with 22 third-level students. Over eight weeks the students will work in a variety of areas including fish and shellfish assessments and surveys, sampling salmon and commercial fisheries in ports, maritime economics, oceanographic equipment modifications and communications.

"The student summer bursary programme has been ongoing since the 1960's and has great historical importance to the marine science sector. The work experience programme enables students from a wide variety of disciplines to further their knowledge and research in their particular area of interest and it offers the students to expand their professional networks within Ireland and abroad," explained Ms. Helen McCormick, Senior Laboratory Analyst at the Marine Institute and co-ordinator of the bursary programme for 2014.

The students will gain hands on experience at different locations around Ireland, including the offices and laboratories at the Marine Institute - Galway, Harcourt Street - Dublin and Burrishoole Catchment - Newport, County Mayo. Some students will also be located at fisheries ports in counties Cork, Waterford and Louth.

With the publication of "Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth" in July 2012, Ireland is expected to promote investment and enable growth within the marine sector. The bursary programme offers a promising gateway into the expanding areas of marine science and research in Ireland.

The programme is well recognised and aims to promote future employment opportunities for undergraduates and postgraduates. Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute congratulated all successful bursars on this years programme saying, "The Institute is delighted to support this excellent learning opportunity for Irish students".

Published in Marine Science

#TALL SHIPS - Sail Training Ireland for Youth Development (STIYD) has announced a golden opportunity for the general public to sail on a tall ship.

Hot on the heels of the Tall Ships Races visit to Dublin this August, a series of three tall ship voyages have been scheduled to take place to and from Irish ports by the UK-based Jubilee Sailing Trust (JST) on its 65-metre tall ship Tenacious between 11 October and 4 November 2012.

The first sailing from Southampton to Dublin (via Waterford) runs for 10 days from 11-20 October, followed by a seven-day jaunt from Dublin to Belfast from 22-28 October, and another seven-day trip from Belfast to Milford Haven from 29 October-4 November. Each voyage will have room for 40 trainees.

Anyone aged 16 and above can join the voyage crew as a trainee, and no previous experience is necessary.

Tenacious is also specially designed to cater for the needs of people with varying degrees of physical disability, including wheelchair users.

Features on board Tenacious and her sister ship Lord Nelson include signs in braille, lifts between decks, power assisted and 'joystick' steering, wide aisles and low-level fittings, guidance tracks and other on-deck pointers, and a speaking compass with digital screen.

STIYD says it is committed to providing access to tall ship sailing for the people of Ireland. The JST has also offered these voyages at a greatly reduced rate to encourage Irish trainees to get on board with what is hoped can become an annual event.

“It is great to see that the international tall ship fleet is reacting to recent activity in Irish sail training," said Michael Byrne, manager at STIYD. "Now that there is a central point of contact for trainees and vessel operators through STIYD, we can expect to see more and more of this kind of activity.

"When the JST approached us with a proposal to run their Irish Sea programme we offered our full support in promoting the opportunity. A unique and hugely important aspect to the JST is its ability to cater for people with varying degrees of physical ability.”

Kyle O’Regan of STIYD's youth branch added: “It is great for Irish trainees that the JST has arranged for Tenacious to have an Irish Sea programme. Being able to join or leave in your own country is a major advantage in terms of lowering costs.”

Meanwhile, the JST's Grainne Arntz said the charity has shown its "commitment to Ireland" by scheduling these autumn voyages.

"Three years ago we introduced the Ultimate Transition Year Tall Ship Adventure, a programme whereby groups of Transition Year students from Irish schools experience the challenge of tall ship sailing with diverse people.

"These voyages in the autumn will allow more groups and individuals to avail of the unique JST experience of sailing on a tall ship with people of all ages and abilities.”

The tall ship voyages are priced at £775 per person for the 10-day trip, and £525 per person for the seven-day excursions. To book your voyage with the JST visit their website HERE or call +44 23 8044 9108.

For information on the Irish branch of the Jubilee Sailing Trust visit www.jstireland.ie. For general information on sail training activities in Ireland contact Sail Training Ireland, Port Centre, Alexandra Road, Dublin 1 at 01 887 6046, e-mail [email protected] or visit www.irishsailtraining.com.

STIYD is the national sail training organisation for Ireland and is endorsed as such by Sail Training International. The vision of STIYD is to “provide access to the sail training experience for the people of Ireland”.

Published in Tall Ships

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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