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Commissioners of Irish Lights Conference Aims to Make Seas Safe for Offshore Wind Energy Development

11th November 2022
Irish Lights CEO, Yvonne Shields O’Connor says the conference focus is on safe and sustainable navigation of the seas
Irish Lights CEO, Yvonne Shields O’Connor says the conference focus is on safe and sustainable navigation of the seas

As the Taoiseach commits to accelerating offshore wind development at COP 27, maritime and shipping leaders gathering at a global conference in Dublin next week will explore the safety issues involved.

Navigating to 2050 – a safe and sustainable maritime future’ takes place online and in Dublin Castle on 15th and 16th of November. It’s organised by the Commissioners of Irish Lights and CEO, Yvonne Shields O’Connor says the focus is on safe and sustainable navigation of the seas.

“Our conference is set against the backdrop of COP 27. So, it’s very timely to address the safety issues involved in building a new regulatory framework to enable the development of offshore renewable projects.”Ms Shields O’Connor says this “creates a momentum for our conference which has a full session dedicated to planning for safety of Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) developments at sea.” Speakers include leading figures from Irish, European and international maritime bodies and industries.

“We are bringing global public and private sector experts together to discuss international climate and energy transition targets,” says Ms Shields O’Connor. “We will explore the opportunities and challenges for Ireland’s shipping industry, ports, offshore energy and broader maritime sector.

“The core mission of Irish Lights is safe navigation at sea,” says Ms Shields O’Connor. “We focus on sustainability and safe operations and have an interest in everything from next generation navigation technology to low carbon maritime transport.”

Yvonne says the last few years have illustrated Ireland’s reliance on marine supply chains with over 90% of goods by volume transported by volume into our ports. “The ambitious plans for offshore energy production will see major changes in our offshore landscape. All of this requires careful planning and collaboration across the maritime and energy sectors. This conference is designed to bring together the key players and influencers who are leading and shaping a new maritime future for Ireland to focus on safety and sustainability.”

Keynote presenter on the opening session of the conference, is Anthony Gurnee, Founder and CEO of Ardmore Shipping - an Irish company operating a fleet of modern tankers worldwide. He will talk about transitioning to a profitable and decarbonised shipping future. This session will also hear from Maja Markovčić Kostelac, Executive Director of European Maritime Safety Agency, an organisation with considerable technical capacity and influence in member states. Chris Waddington, Technical Director, International Chamber of Shipping will speak about the short term measures that the industry must implement from 2023 onwards. Prof Alan Ahearne from University of Galway will give an insight into the implications of the EU ‘Fit for 55’ Package on the maritime sector and wider Irish economy. Caoimhín Ó Ciaruáin, Department of Transport, will talk about the governments’ Climate Action Plan and the implications for the maritime transport sector.

In the afternoon of 15th November, the conference will look at new technology and digitalisation and how this will impact on safe navigation and offshore developments. Ronan Boyle, Director of eNavigation and Maritime Services in Irish Lights will lead a discussion with Chief Vessel Operator of Ocean Infinity Ann Pletschke about the new fleet of autonomous vessels her company is building.

Many challenges remain to be addressed and delegates will hear from Jacob Terling of DG Move about the latest thinking on a regulatory framework for autonomous vessels. Niels Peter Fredslund from the Danish Maritime Authority will provide an insight on future Aids to Navigation.

On 16th November, the opening sessions focuses on offshore wind development and the safety implications for all maritime users. Martina Hennessy from Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications will discuss the government’s approach to offshore wind development, post 2030.

Kai Truempler, of Germany’s Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) will discuss spatial planning and offshore wind farms. This is followed by Carien Droppers talk about the policy approach to safety issues in the North Sea. Kai Simon de Pietro from DP Energy will give a developer perspective on safety in offshore wind installations.

That afternoon, the conference will focus on ports and regional infrastructure. It will explore what developments and investments must be made to facilitate offshore wind development. It will also address the transition of the maritime sector and wider economy to a sustainable future. Delegates will hear from two major ports Pat Keating of Shannon – Foynes and Mike Robinson of Belfast about their role in supporting a carbon neutral economy by 2025.

The conference will also hear from Prof Kurt Bodewig, Co-ordinator of the EU Motorways of the Sea programme about how the EU can support this transition. Catherine Sheridan of EIH2 will talk about Green Hydrogen and John O’Sullivan of dCarbonX will talk about the need for large-scale sub-surface offshore hydrogen energy storage.

Published in Lighthouses Team

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Irish Lights is a maritime organisation delivering essential 24/7 safety and navigation services around the coast of Ireland 365 days. Its focus is reliable and cost-effective services which protect people, property and the marine environment, and support marine industry and coastal communities.

Irish Lights is responsible for providing marine aids to navigation under the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention. This remit includes: providing and maintaining over 300 general aids to navigation, managing about 4,000 local aids to navigation and marking or removing dangerous wrecks outside harbour areas around Ireland. Irish Lights also provides contract commercial services for ship charter, buoy and marine data services and supports tourism and heritage activities.

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