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Power From The Sea
New contract for H&W in offshore renewables sector secures 80 jobs
#NewContract - A new contract for Harland & Wolff is to provide parts for an off-shore windfarm off the coast of Germany — supporting 80 jobs. The Belfast Telegraph writes that the firm has been chosen by jacket foundation supplier…
The prototype wave energy device at the Galway Bay Marine and Renewable Energy Test Site
An Irish-designed device to generate electricity from ocean wave power is another step closer to breaking into the massive potential on offer in the ocean energy market. Irish company, Sea Power Ltd., has concluded the winter survivability testing programme of…
The first low-velocity tidal energy project in the world is of a commercial power plant array installed in Holyhead Deep off north-west Wales. Holyhead Deep is the name of a large depression in the seabed, located west of the the South Stack Lighthouse, Anglesey where the ferryport of Holyhead is owned by Stena Line. They and Minesto are joint owners of the offshore energy project.
#HolyheadDeep -  Two Swedish-based companies have engaged in a joint project to invest in Wales’ transition to renewable energy. Minesto and Stena Line will build an assembly hall in the Port of Holyhead, which Minesto will utilise in their upcoming…
Patrick Gougeon new CEO of OpenHydro
OpenHydro, the Irish based tidal energy company and part of DCNS Energies, has appointed Mr Patrick Gougeon as their new Chief Executive Officer. The appointment signals the company’s ongoing drive towards commercialisation of its tidal technology and follows the launch…
Harland and Wolff said the wind farm structures will be as "prominent in the Belfast skyline" as their famous cranes
#H&Wcontract - A major manufacturing contract to Harland and Wolff has been secured which the company says will support 200 jobs. The BBC News writes that the "multi-million pound contract" is with wind farm developer Scottishpower Renewables. The engineering firm…
The Sea Power device has been in development for eight years and will soon make the short journey from Foynes in Limerick, where it was built, to the Galway Bay test site
Irish company, Sea Power, is preparing to test their prototype wave energy device at the Galway Bay Marine and Renewable Energy Test Site in the coming weeks. Following successful completion of testing at small scale, the company, which received grant…
Locals Express Fears As Deadline Draws Near On Galway Bay Marine Test Site Consultation
#SeaPower - Fears over loss of access to generations-old seaweed harvesting grounds and millennia-old archaeological finds have been expressed by locals in the consultation on the new Galway Bay Marine and Renewable Energy Test Site, which closes next Friday 9…
#HeavyLiftVessel - Dutch marine speciliat, Van Oord's heavy lift-vessel, HLV Svanen arrived recently to Belfast Harbour, following installing the final wind turbine foundation at the Burbo Bank Extension wind farm in Liverpool Bay. The 1990 built heavy lift installation vessel is moored…
#MostPowerful - The world’s most powerful wind turbine blades continue to ‘breeze’ into Belfast Harbour, as part of a project to develop the Burbo 2 offshore wind farm on the Irish Sea as previously reported on Afloat. The blades – plus…
Dong Energy facility (on left) with backdrop of H&W's famous Samson & Goliath cranes and oil platforms at the marine engineering facility on Belfast Lough
#WindFarm - Blades for a wind-farm in the Irish Sea have begun to arrive in Belfast Harbour reports ReNews. The blades are for the MHI Vestas V164 8MW turbines destined for Dong Energy’s 256MW Burbo 2 offshore wind-farm in the…
SmartBay Shares In Euro Funding For Ocean Energy
#SmartBay - Galway's new SmartBay ocean observatory will share in a €11m European funding boost for ocean energy testing, as Silicon Republic reports. The subsea observatory in Galway Bay – launched earlier this month in tandem with SeaFest and the…
Ireland has the best off shore energy potential in Europe
Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten TD, has signed an energy cooperation declaration with nine other EU counties focussing on the development of cost effective offshore wind & wave renewable energy. Commenting on the cooperation declaration, Denis…
The 2MW floating tidal turbine been towed out of H&W to Kirkwall for final checks
#FloatingTurbine- Scotrenewables an Orkney based developer whose 2MW floating tidal turbine as previously reported on Afloat has departed Belfast Harbour for its Kirkwall headquarters. ReNews reports that the SR2000 will undergo final checks at Kirkwall before installation at the European…
Public Consultation On Galway Bay Marine Test Site Lease Application
#SeaPower - A public consultation is underway on the Marine Institute’s application for a foreshore lease to upgrade the Galway Bay Marine and Renewable Energy Test Site. The Marine Institute has applied to the Department of the Environment, Community and…
Three wind turbines a lot like this one would be installed off Spiddal, the closest 1.7km from shore
#PowerFromTheSea - The Irish Times reports that the Marine Institute hopes to install wind turbines in Galway Bay for an offshore renewable energy trial. Permission is being sought for up to three turbines, with a maximum height of 35m above sea…
The proposed zones for tidal energy off Anglesey, north Wales.
#TidalEnergy - An underwater turbine scheme off Anglesey, north Wales, will help power up to 25,000 homes, reports The Daily Post. The scheme would create one of the most sought after tidal energy sites in the world, has received a…

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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