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#VOR - The first candidates for places on Team SCA's all-female team for the next edition of the Volvo Ocean Race are currently sailing on a training leg from Southampton to Lanzarote.

The Volvo Ocean Race website spoke to one of the hopefuls, Vendee Globe veteran Sam Davies, who described the team's plans to field the first women-only team in the VOR as "an amazing opportunity for me and woman's sailing in general, especially for women ocean racers."

She's joined on the VOR 70 training vessel - which sports the team's recently unveiled livery ahead of the completion of their VOR 65 yacht - by fellow Brit sailor Annie Lush, Carolijn Brouwer and Klaartje Zuiderbaan from the Netherlands, Jeanne Gregoire from France, and Liz Wardley and Stacey Jackson from Australia.

Davies said of the team selection that it's "a two-way process... the managers are looking at all of us and we're testing it out to see if it is really what we want to do."

Team SCA managing director Richard Brisus said of the first trainee voyage to the team's base at Puerto Calero: "We have set out to work with the world’s best female offshore sailors and create a strong group of women that also has the ability to work well together as a high-performing team."

A second group of candidates will head out to sea shortly, and Team SCA coach Magnus Olsson said it "would be fantastic if we could find our team from these two groups.

“They are a remarkable group of women and each brings a very high level of skill sets to a potential team."

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

#Surfing - Check out this stunning video of Portuguese surf pro Nic Von Rupp who cancelled his winter trip to Hawaii last week to take on what Surfer magazine calls 'Ireland's Emerald Slabs'.

Towing out to the storm-fuelled swells of Mullaghmore, Von Rupp shows just how it's done as the world's big wave surfing elite flocked to Sligo for the Billabong Tow-In Session.

Published in Surfing

#RNLI - Kilkeel RNLI rescued a windsurfer who got into difficulty in Carlingford, Co Louth yesterday (Tuesday 29 January).

The charity’s volunteer lifeboat crew was requested to launch by the Irish Coast Guard shortly after 2pm following a report that a windsurfer had got into difficulty in Carlingford Lough.



Launching their inshore lifeboat immediately, the crew encountered very unfavourable weather, with strong westerly winds of between force six and seven.



The lifeboat proceeded up the lough where they found and retrieved the windsurfer who had stayed by his board. The crew then attempted to retrieve the sail and board but couldn’t due to the windy weather conditions. They instead proceeded to tow the board into Greenore where the local coastguard took over.



Despite being in the water for approximately an hour, the casualty was described as being in reasonably good health.



Roy Teggarty, Kilkeel RNLI lifeboat operations manager, paid tribute to the lifeboat crew for their efforts in what was a challenging rescue:

"This was a day with difficult conditions because of the strong winds," he said. "It was mainly difficult to keep the lifeboat steady when retrieving the casualty so this rescue involved expert boat handling by all involved."

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#Surfing - Garrett McNamara has done it again - after riding what is claimed to be the largest wave ever surfed.

Last summer on Afloat.ie we reported that the Irish-American surfing pro had his previous world record attempt - a 78-foot monster off Portugal in November 2011 - confirmed by Guinness record-keepers.

But the Hawaiian wasn't content to rest on his laurels, and on a recent return visit to Nazaré he is said to have smashed his own record with a wave reported to be as much as 100ft in height.

The Guardian has video of McNamara's incredible attempt which you can view below - it's a sight that beggars belief!

McNamara's previous tow-in surf at Nazaré earned him the Biggest Wave title at the 2012 Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards. He shared his $15,000 prize money with Devon surfer Andrew 'Cotty' Cotton, who towed him by personal watercraft into the massive swell.

"Everything was perfect, the weather, the waves," said Northern Irish surfer Al Mennie, who was on hand to witness the pair at Praia do Norte.

Published in Surfing

#Surfing - Some of the world's top big wave surfing talent enjoyed the 'day that almost never was' at Mullaghmore in Sligo on Sunday.

As the video above shows, competitors in the long-delayed Billabong Tow-In Session finally got a chance to prove their mettle after two amber alerts in a week for the international event, pushed back from last year after a calm storm season.

Confidence was high as the storm front that has been battering Ireland for the past two days made its way across the Atlantic, bringing with it the giant swells needed to green-light the action.

Big wave surfers being secretive sorts, due to the dangerous nature of offshore tow-in surfing and their determination to keep their favourite spots 'just for them', we don't yet have results of the action, or even confirmation that the waves were big enough to count!

But what we do know is that the likes of Billabong XXL 2013 Ride of the Year nominee Peter Conroy were present and ready to tackle the colossal walls of water Mother Nature was set to provide.

Meanwhile, Met Eireann warns that gale force winds are expected to continue today (29 January) with southwesterly gusts of up to 110 km/h possible. Those in coastal areas have been warned to exercise caution.

Published in Surfing

#VOR - In the latest video update following the construction of the Volvo Ocean Race's new one-design yacht, VOR expert Rick Deppe travels to the Decision plant in Lausanne, Switzerland to take a look at the production of the boat's internal structure.

The new footage shows the 'sandwich' construction of the lightweight internal frame of foam and carbon fibre which will give the yachts the strength and rigidity that will make them both fast and safe on the open sea.

Previously the series visited the USA, Italy and France for an all-round catch-up on the progress of the new VOR 65 design.

Fans of the Volvo Ocean Race should expect a "very forward thinking" design when the finished boat is finally unveiled ahead of the next edition of the round-the-world race.

As reported on Afloat.ie last week, Team SCA have unveiled the livery for their VOR 65 which they intend to launch when ready to race later this year.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

#MarineWildlife - The Irish Examiner reports on the extraordinary story of a bottlenose dolphin who turned to a group of divers for help to free it from a fishing line.

The video above captures the touching scene when the cetacean approached the divers as they filmed a group of manta rays in the Pacific waters near Kona in Hawaii.

As the footage shows, the dolphin positioned itself in such as way as to allow diver Keller Laros to cut the fishing tackle that was tangled tightly around its midsection and remove the hook from its left pectoral fin.

After the dolphin took to the surface for a quick breather, the divers were able to free it from the line and allow it to swim away unharmed.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#Kitesurfing - Another video for this chilly day, this time of professional kitesurfer Ruben Lenten as he takes it to the extreme in Ireland and the Netherlands.

The footage on YouTube shows the Red Bull team member getting some big winter air off the west coast of Ireland - and storm chasing closer to home off the Dutch coast. Better him than us!

Published in Kitesurfing

#MarineWildlife - Here's a little something cheerful to brighten up this chilly, snowy Monday morning: some video footage from YouTube shot by Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) member Karl Grabe of the first whales to visit Ireland's shores in 2013.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the first sightings were made last week on the maiden member whale-watching trip on board the IWDG's new marine wildlife research vessel Celtic Mist off the coast of Wexford.

In addition to these fin whales, the group also made the acquaintance of a group of frolicking dolphins from the 'superpod' spotted in the Irish Sea recently, as you can see from the clip below:

Published in Marine Wildlife

#VOR - Organisers of the Volvo Ocean Race have announced that the Brazilian state of Pernambuco will enter a team in the next edition of the round-the-world offshore challenge in 2014-15. 

In addition, its capital city of Recife will be the first stopover port along the race route, which starts in Alicante in the second half of next year.

The Recife team is only the second publicly announced team for the 12th edition of the VOR, following the SCA all-women's team announced last August.

Details about the stopover and the team, including the identity of the skipper, will be announced in the coming weeks.

“[The] announcement of the Pernambuco team and Recife stopover are fantastic news for the race,” said Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad. “I’m delighted to see the Race strengthen our ties with Brazil, Recife and Pernambuco in this way.

"Coming to Recife at the end of Leg 1 means there will be a lot of attention on this great city and having a Brazilian team in the race will be fantastic for fans across the country."

The decision to make Leg 1 of the route from Alicante to Recife means the VOR will be visiting Brazil in one of the biggest sporting eras in the nation's history – just a few months after the country hosts the 2014 Fifa World Cup and less than two years before the Olympic Games in Rio.

Recife was one of over 80 ports to express an interest in hosting the race when the bid process was launched in 2012. The deal announced yesterday will see Recife host the race for the next two editions.  

The last Brazilian team to enter the Volvo Ocean Race was Brasil 1 in 2005-06. Torben Grael was the skipper and Knut Frostad, now the Volvo Ocean Race's CEO, featured as a crew member on some of the legs. The Brazilian campaign proved to be a big success and generated great interest worldwide and in the media. Grael went on to win the Volvo Ocean Race as skipper of Ericsson 4 in 2008-09.

The Volvo Ocean Race's links with Brazil date back to 1973, when the first edition of what was then known as the Whitbread Round the World Race stopped at Rio de Janeiro.

The race also visited Rio in the second edition in 1977-78 and again in 2001-02, 2005-06 and 2008-09. In 1997-98 the race stopped at São Sebastião and in the last edition in 2011-12, Itajaí was a host port.

Meanwhile, Team SCA have unveiled the livery for their VOR 65 new design when it is launched and ready to race later this year.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the new design VOR 65 - priced at €4.5 million, about 20% less expensive than the 70-footer that ended its run in Galway last summer - was developed with the idea of reducing the costs of competing in the gruelling round-the-world yacht race.

The official VOR website has images of the SCA livery, with nature-inspired graphics and colours designed to reflect the eco-friendly values of the title sponsor, global hygiene company SCA.

At the beginning of February, a number of Team SCA women crew candidates will leave Southampton on a first test sail together with several leading off-shore coaches.

Team SCA have not yet revealed the identity of any of the crew, including the skipper.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race
Page 7 of 15

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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