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The ESB has announced the completion of an industry-endorsed marine mammal observer (MMO) training programme to support those in the early stages of their careers in the marine environmental sector.

An additional key aim was to fill a gap in the Irish offshore wind industry’s local supply chain due to a lack of locally based MMOs on the island of Ireland.

Launched in 2023, the programme was open to recent graduates, final-year undergraduates and postgraduate students who studied or worked in the area of marine science or related disciplines.

The five successful applicants took part in industry-approved training courses including basic offshore safety induction and emergency training (BOSIET), the UK’s Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) MMO training certifications with additional Irish Guideline modules, and Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) approved medical and fit-to-train certifications.

Participants took part in MMO training provided by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) and spent two nights onboard the research vessel Celtic Mist at Kilrush, Co Clare, followed by a half-day at sea.

All participants were also provided with one-year complimentary membership of the IWDG, the Marine Mammal Observer Association (MMOA) and the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST) with professional mentoring support and access to the Career Development Pathway.

Programme participants spent two nights onboard the research vessel Celtic Mist | Credit: IWDGProgramme participants spent two nights onboard the research vessel Celtic Mist | Credit: IWDG

Speaking on the completion of the programme, ESB’s Offshore Ecology Team said the programme represents a significant milestone.

“As of 2024, Ireland now has five newly trained and much-needed MMOs as a result of this initiative. Through this programme, ESB has demonstrated its commitment to supporting the marine mammal bbserver role in Ireland, nurturing local talent which will be essential in the delivery of ESB's Net Zero targets by 2040,” the team said.

“Our funding has facilitated opportunities to enhance skilled work readiness and has strengthened local talent in collaborating with local organisations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group amid Ireland’s renewable energy expansion. At the heart of this Programme is the inspiration and support of young professionals seeking fulfilling careers in marine ecology and sustainable energy.”

Amy O’Reilly, one of the newly trained MMOs, shared her insights into the experience: “The ESB MMO training programme has been a wonderful opportunity and unforgettable experience for me. When I first applied, I had a history of volunteering with marine wildlife charities and was in the middle of a nine-month internship with the cetacean charity Manx Whale and Dolphin Watch. ESB recognised my passion and drive towards building a career in the marine science field.

“Some of my highlights from the programme included sleeping on board the Celtic Mist, undergoing training by the very wise and seasoned MMO Mr Patrick Lyne and, of course, escaping from a helicopter underwater in the BOSIET training.

“I am delighted to say that with this training as a foundation, I have been able to get my first MMO role with IWDG consulting, working on a short project in Dublin Port.”

Qualified MMOs are environmental professionals who specialise in monitoring marine megafauna species and ensuring the implementation of mitigation requirements during various industry operations, and they will be key components in the delivery of offshore wind projects over the coming decade.

Ireland has a unique capability given its prime location to take advantage of the potential of offshore wind, the ESB says.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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ESB has announced plans to fund a marine mammal observer (MMO) training programme which is open to graduates, final-year undergraduates and postgraduate students who are studying or working in the area of marine science or related disciplines.

The aim of the programme is to assist in developing marine ecology education and skills to support successful applicants at the early stages of their careers in the marine environmental profession.

ESB will award up to five places on the MMO training programme. All applicants must be available to participate in person for training at Kilrush, Co Clare on 4-5 November. Application forms can be requested from ESB via [email protected]. The deadline for application submissions is next Thursday 12 October.

Industry-approved training courses and medicals will be funded to bring individuals up to the standard level of competency for offshore work. These courses include Basic Offshore Safety Induction and Emergency Training (BOSIET), the UK’s Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) MMO training with Irish Guideline certifications, and Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) approved medical and Fit-to-Train certifications.

The training programme is being endorsed by the Marine Mammal Observer Association, which will offer one-year complimentary affiliate membership to successful candidates and provide further advice and mentoring support for pursuing a career as an MMO.

The programme is also being endorsed by the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST), which will offer one-year complimentary associate membership and one-year access to its career development pathway.

The MMO training will be provided by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) and will include classroom-based training, two nights’ accommodation and a half-day at-sea experience onboard the research vessel Celtic Mist. The IWDG will also offer one-year complimentary membership to programme participants.

The ESB’s Offshore Ecology Team said: “As we continue with our drive at ESB to deliver offshore wind projects as part of our Net Zero by 2040 strategy, we are committed to promoting the MMO role in Ireland, and increasing the number of qualified and experienced local professionals that will play such an important role in the future of the industry.

“Training programmes such as this will not only add to the creation of employment opportunities but will also contribute positively to help protect species as Ireland develops offshore renewable wind energy.”

Simon Berrow, chief executive of the IWDG said: “Over the last 30 years the IWDG has been at the forefront of whale and dolphin conservation in Irish waters. Now, with increasing pressures on our seas, especially the coastal zone, there is more demand than ever for trained and experienced marine mammal mitigation experts.

“The IWDG is delighted to be working in collaboration with the ESB to provide pathways to joining the offshore industry in an environmental capacity, to ensure the continued safeguarding of marine mammals in Irish waters.”

Ashleigh Kitchiner, chair of the Marine Mammal Observer Association said: “MMOA believes that investing in developing emerging professionals is vital for the growth and sustainability of our industry. We are confident that this MMO Training Programme coupled with our endorsement and support will contribute to the success of each candidate.”

Gwynne Lewis, chief executive of IMarEST said: “Nurturing the next generation of marine professionals and ensuring their access to the resources, networks and educational opportunities essential for their development is central to our work. It is vital that we inspire, encourage and support young people to want to have a rewarding career as marine professionals.”

Qualified MMOs are environmental professionals who specialise in monitoring marine megafauna species and ensure the implementation of mitigation requirements during various industry operations. Such roles will play an important part in the delivery of offshore wind projects over the coming decade. Ireland has a unique capability given its prime location to take advantage of the potential of offshore wind.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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The ESB and Shannon Foynes Port have announced a funding collaboration for a €250k study at MaREI — the SFI Research Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine at University College Cork (UCC) — in the latest step towards helping Ireland to deliver floating offshore wind (FLOW) projects in the future.

Starting this month, the focus of the research will be to examine the requirements and identify potential sites for wet storage, which is the temporary offshore storage of floating offshore wind turbines in suitable areas prior to installation.

This is a key requirement for facilitating floating offshore wind, which will be a fundamental technology in Ireland reaching its offshore renewable targets.

Research will take place over two phases. The first phase will consist of understanding the key conditions and constraints associated with the development and identification of suitable wet storage sites, while phase two will focus on the technical challenges of designing sites in terms of the optimum layout and mooring configuration.

The aim of the study is to identify and inform considerations for the future FLOW industry that are required at an economic, environmental, societal and policy level in Ireland and also, to set a benchmark for best international practice through close academic and industry collaboration.

Ronan O’Flynn, ESB programme director for Green Atlantic @ Moneypoint said: “We understand the importance that floating offshore wind projects are going to play in both Ireland achieving its ambitious renewable energy targets and ESB delivering on our commitment to reach net zero by 2040.

“Research such as this, carried out by our partners MaREI and supported by Shannon Foynes Port, will help the entire industry to better understand what is required for crucial wet storage facilities that will allow floating offshore wind projects to be delivered at scale.”

‘This project will be an important enabler for the emerging floating wind energy sector in Ireland’

Pat Keating, CEO at Shannon Foynes Port said: “Our partnership with the ESB on funding this research will help underpin understanding in the key area of wet storage, in which [the] Shannon Estuary will be a major provider of as we go about harvesting the unprecedented opportunity for not just our region and State arising from floating offshore wind.

“Because of the estuary’s existing deepwater ports at Foynes and Moneypoint, wet storage space and available land for large-scale industrial development, we are one of few locations in Europe that can manufacture floating turbines at the scale necessary for commercialisation.”

Dr Jimmy Murphy, funded investigator in MaREI and senior lecturer in the School of Engineering in UCC, said: “This project will be an important enabler for the emerging floating wind energy sector in Ireland and will allow strategic planning decisions to be made related to the efficient deployment of floating windfarms.

“MaREI has a track record of research and development in floating wind and welcomes this collaboration with ESB and Shannon Foynes Port to address the challenge of identifying potential wet storage locations and optimising design layout.”

Ireland’s offshore wind energy potential arising from our Atlantic seaboard winds is among Europe’s leading renewable energy opportunities, the partners suggest.

With a maritime area more than seven times the size of its landmass, ideal wind conditions and strategic location on the Atlantic Ocean's edge, floating offshore wind generation has the potential to deliver up to 30 gigawatts of energy by 2050 — six times more than current domestic electricity demand.

MaREI will provide the research expertise along with the various tools required for the study which is aligned with their core research principles. ESB and Shannon Foynes Port will provide funding support and industry knowledge for the study which is in line with ESB’s Net Zero by 2040 strategy and Shannon Foynes Port’s Vision 2041 masterplan.

Published in Power From the Sea

The ESB and Danish multinational energy company Ørsted have signed an agreement to jointly develop an Irish offshore wind portfolio.

Ørsted becomes a 50/50 partner in a “pipeline of offshore wind development projects off the Irish coast”, the ESB said in a statement today.

The partnership has the potential to deliver up to five gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy and complementary renewable hydrogen projects, it said.

The first of these offshore wind projects is expected to compete in the next Irish offshore wind auction, ORESS 2.1, it said.

The joint projects involve sites earmarked for seven offshore wind farms off six counties.

The projects include Moneypoint One ( 400MW) and Moneypoint Two (1GW) off Clare, Loch Garman (600MW) off Wicklow, Helvick Head (800MW) off Waterford, Celtic One (700MW) and Celtic Two (800MW) off Cork and Waterford, and Sea Stacks (800MW) off Dublin and Wicklow

The two companies jointly own the Neart na Gaoithe offshore wind energy farm being developed off the Scottish coast.

The new agreement was welcomed by Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Simon Coveney when he joined Jim Dollard of the ESB and Duncan Clark, head of UK and Ireland at Ørsted at Cork Chamber.

“From the world’s first offshore turbine in Denmark in 1991 to the world’s largest operational offshore wind farm, Hornsea 2 in the UK, Ørsted has been a driving force behind the commercialisation of the offshore wind industry across Europe, Asia, and America,” Clark said in a joint statement.

In November 2021 Norwegian company Equinor pulled out of its joint development plans with the ESB on offshore wind.

Published in Power From the Sea
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The ESB says it “remains committed” to the Oriel Wind Farm project after it was unsuccessful in yesterday’s offshore wind energy auction, as RTÉ News reports.

The proposed wind power array in Dundalk Bay — a partnership between the ESB and Belgian green energy supplier Parkwind — missed out on one of the four contracts awarded to offshore wind projects around the country in the State’s first such auction.

In a statement on Friday (12 May), the ESB said that “while the Oriel project was not awarded a contract in this auction round, Parkwind and ESB believe that it is a well-positioned project and will ultimately play its part in generating the renewable electricity we need. We will continue to progress the project and are actively investigating alternative routes to market.”

Environment Minister Eamon Ryan confirmed on this morning’s edition of RTÉ Radio 1’s Today programme that there will be “a second auction later this year and we will go on the same next year”.

Meanwhile, environmentalists have urged that Ireland must be “wise”, despite the huge potential of green offshore energy, and maintain an “open transparency approach” when it comes to monitoring the status of marine wildlife around such sites.

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Power From the Sea

The ESB and Rosslare’s port authority, Iarnród Éireann, have signed a joint agreement to co-operate on offshore wind development in the Celtic and Irish Seas.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) draws on ESB’s plans to develop a “portfolio” of offshore wind farms, while Rosslare Europort aims to establish the port as Ireland’s offshore renewables hub.

The MOU “establishes a common goal of maximising the opportunities of each parties’ respective development plans”, they state.

The MOU is “non-exclusive”, and sets out the two organisations’ intention to “work together with the aim of developing a port solution capable of supporting ESB’s offshore developments in Ireland, in line with the country’s climate action targets and ESB’s Net Zero by 2040 strategy”, they say.

Last year, Rosslare Europort management announced plans to establish the port, its hinterland and the southeast region as an Irish offshore renewable energy (ORE) Hub, with the potential to create up to 2,000 jobs.

The partners state that the port is uniquely located within 60-100 nautical miles of most of the planned developments in the Irish and Celtic seas, including many of the projects developed by ESB within Ireland.

Rosslare Europort plans significant works, including:

  • ORE purpose-built quay and berth
  • ORE quayside storage and pre-construction / up to 50 acres in area
  • Navigable channel dredged down to a minimum of 9-11 metres depth
  • Management Control Centre & management offices and facilities for Operations and Maintenance

Minister of State at the Department of Transport Jack Chambers said: “Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) is integral to meeting Ireland’s climate change ambitions with a target of achieving 7GW of offshore energy by 2030, 2GW of which is dedicated to the production of green hydrogen”.

"As set out in a policy statement published in December 2021, a multiport approach to the provision of port infrastructure will facilitate the development of ORE in Ireland, which will help maximise the economic benefits at regional as well as national level in terms of the creation of jobs and new SME enterprise that can support the development of the ORE industry,” he said.

"This agreement between Rosslare Europort and ESB is a welcome demonstration of the collaboration and commitment by these two commercial entities in delivering on our ORE ambition,” he said.

Published in Power From the Sea
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The ESB and the Port of Cork Company have signed a memorandum of understanding regarding joint plans for Ireland’s offshore wind and green hydrogen development, as the Irish Examiner reports.

A key factor of Port of Cork’s masterplan is aiming to position the city and its natural, deep-channel harbour at the forefront of Ireland’s growing offshore renewable energy sector.

And with the ESB’s Net Zero by 2040 seeing collaboration as critical to the development of green energy in Ireland, the partnership comes at an opportune time.

The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.

Published in Power From the Sea

ESB will host a webinar on its proposed Celtic Offshore Wind Project from 7.30pm to 8.30pm this Thursday 8 December.

And this will be followed by a series of public exhibitions on the plans in Youghal, Ballycotton and Cobh next week.

The Celtic Offshore Wind Project comprises two wind farms south of Ballycotton in East Cork.

Celtic One is a proposed 800MW fixed-bottom offshore wind farm some 8km offshore, while Celtic Two is a proposed 800MW floating offshore wind farm to be located some 27km south of Ballycotton.

The webinar will provide up-to-date information from the project team, as well as offer an opportunity for the public to submit questions or provide feedback. All questions and answers will be added to the project website after the event.

If you wish to attend or submit questions in advance, email [email protected] with your details.

Following the webinar, ESB is hosting a series of public exhibitions to give local communities the opportunity to learn more about the project.

These sessions will offer attendees the opportunity to review up-to-date information on the project as well as to meet with the project team. They take place at the following dates, times and locations:

  • Tuesday 13 December, 4-8pm, Cumann na Daoine, Catherine Street, Youghal
  • Wednesday 14 December, 4-8pm, Sea Church, Ballycotton
  • Thursday 15 December, 4-8pm, Commodore Hotel, 4 Westbourn Place, Cobh
Published in ESB Renewable Energy

Climate change is one of the defining challenges of this generation. Its impact is evident in increasingly extreme weather patterns, rising sea levels, water shortages and disruption to biodiversity and ecosystems.

Offshore wind-generated electricity has a transformative role to play globally in mankind’s fight against this change and our transition to a zero-carbon economy by eliminating carbon and other harmful greenhouse gases emitted by the energy sector by replacing that generation with clean renewable electricity as opposed to through the burning of fossil fuels.

ESB – leading the development of offshore wind in Ireland

On 14th February, we launched our ambitious new strategy – Driven to make a Difference: Net Zero by 2040 – with the aim of putting in place the infrastructure and services to enable our customers and broader society to live more sustainably. This builds on our 2017 Brighter Future strategy, which set a clear direction for ESB to take action and exercise leadership in tackling climate change.

Dipping our toe

One of the objectives of our Brighter Future strategy was to “Produce, connect and deliver clean, secure and affordable energy”, with the intent of incorporating significantly more renewable generation into our portfolio. Our first step into the world of offshore wind development came in March 2018 when we acquired a 12.5% share of the 353MW Galloper Offshore Wind Farm[1], located off the coast of Suffolk.

We are now involved as partner in three other offshore wind development projects in UK waters, as well as seven others around the coast of Ireland, two in partnership with Parkwind[2] – Clogherhead[3] and Oriel[4] – and five others that are sole ESB projects

[1] http://www.galloperwindfarm.com/

[2] https://parkwind.eu/

[3] https://www.clogherheadwind.ie/

[4] https://www.orielwindfarm.ie/

The ESB projects are illustrated on the map above and consist of the following:

Further information on each site is available on ESB’s Renewable Energy homepage - ESB and Renewable Energy

Project status

Investigative Foreshore Licence Applications for the ESB projects were submitted in late 2020 and early 2021 to facilitate the commencement of site investigation works in the form of geophysical, geotechnical, metocean and other environmental surveys. To date, two of these have been advertised for public consultation. The Sea Stacks consultation closed at the end of January 2022 and the Helvick Head consultation closed at the end of March. It is anticipated that the consultations for the other three projects will take place over the coming months – please keep an eye on the project webpages for updates.

ESB Moneypoint offshore wind

We have recently launched a Virtual Consultation Room for our Moneypoint project, which can be accessed at the following webpage: https://www.moneypointoffshorewind.ie/Public-Consultation.html The room will provide viewers with up-to-date information on the project and offers an opportunity for viewers to ask questions or provide feedback, and will be open until mid-November 2022. We will host a webinar on the project in due course to give interested parties an opportunity to hear from the project team directly and also to offer an opportunity for questions to be asked by the public. If you would like to take part in the webinar, please leave your details in the feedback form in the consultation room. Otherwise, you can let us know by emailing [email protected].

Open and engaged approach to development

ESB appreciates that our proposed offshore wind sites have the potential to impact some maritime and fishing activities both during the development, planning and construction stages as well as during the operational and subsequent decommissioning phases of our projects. We are currently trying to identify what those impacts might be so that we can take all steps possible to minimise and mitigate against them, both within the wind turbine array area and also along the electricity export cable corridor(s).

During site investigation surveys, wind farm construction works and cable laying it is envisaged that some restrictions will be required to facilitate safe operation of the associated vessels and construction/installation teams. ESB will agree an approach for these activities with the relevant fishers and other marine users associated with any of our proposed projects in advance of any such works. ESB will never carry out works that may impact the maritime community without first engaging appropriately.

During the operation of any of our wind farms, persistence of largely normal, unhindered maritime activity is the aim for ESB. We appreciate, though, that this will be dependent on a number of factors, e.g. turbine array spacing, location of grid cables, whether or not the turbines are bottom-fixed or floating, etc. Gaining a proper understanding from marine users of how our project sites have been and are being used – both in terms of location and type of activity – is, therefore, a key input into the site design process. In that regard, we would very strongly encourage all interested parties to make contact with ESB so that we can both try to attain a better understanding of how we can pursue our interests mutually.

Contact details

ESB’s Stakeholder Manager on the five projects is Brian Hegarty. Brian can be contacted by emailing [email protected] or by calling +447980567980.

ESB’s Community Liaison Officer on the five projects is Michael McGlynn. Michael can be contacted by emailing [email protected] or by calling +353861363512.

Alternatively, if you have any queries relating to any specific site or project, you can contact the project team directly from the Contact Us section of the relevant project webpage.

Published in ESB Renewable Energy
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RTÉ News reports that the ESB has put before planners its proposal for an offshore wind turbine production base at its Moneypoint plant.

The pre-consultation on the planned facility, envisaged as part of the ESB’s multi-billion-euro Green Atlantic @ Moneypoint programme, will continue till June but formal plans are not expected to go before An Board Pleanála until 2024.

“Moneypoint will become a centre for the construction and deployment of floating wind,” a spokesperson said of the proposed facility, part of the ESB’s plans to evolve the West Clare station from coal power into a green energy hub.

The State-owned power company outlined benefits of the site such as its existing deepwater access, and its potential to “a significant number of direct jobs in the Mid-West region”.

Elsewhere, a Dutch offshore energy firm is proposing a £1 billion investment off Northern Ireland that could generate power for up to half a million homes.

As the Belfast Telegraph reports, SBM Offshore says it is investigation two sites in the North Channel for a series of “new generation floating wind turbines”.

“The two sites would generate a combined 400MW, representing 13% of Northern Ireland’s energy needs and up to 57% of domestic requirement,” project director Niamh Kenny said.

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in Power From the Sea
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About the Endurance II Replica Project

An Irish project has been launched on the 150th anniversary of explorer Ernest Shackleton's birth, to build a replica of his ship, Endurance II, in County Kildare.

The project has high-profile patrons such as the Prince Albert II of Monaco, Alexandra Shackleton (Shackleton's granddaughter), and Richard Garriott, the President of the Explorer's Club.

The project is still at the concept stage, so the estimated cost of construction, which is expected to be around €14m, and the annual operational budget of €1.5m are not yet confirmed.

The project organisers are seeking $600,000 (€556,350) from 12 "founders," who will each contribute $50,000. The chairman of private investment firm Kilcullen Kapital Partners, Galway-born O’Coineen, bought the Business Post newspaper in 2018.