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Displaying items by tag: Offshore Energy

Mainport Edge, the name of the Cork-based Irish Mainport Holdings (IMH) newly acquired survey support ship from a shipyard in China last year and since relocated to Europe, is where further upgrade works continue, writes Jehan Ashmore.

As Afloat previously reported the 60m ship was to make a repositioning voyage from Asia to Turkey to undergo further works required by Mainport for its role in the international offshore energy sector. At the end of the year, IMH announced that it had agreed to a multi-million euro equity investment from MML Growth Capital Partners Ireland Limited (“MML”) into Mainport Shipping Limited.

Such investment sees MML become a significant minority shareholder in Mainport alongside IMH, in addition to the funding to initially support the purchase of the newly acquired Mainport Edge for around €16 million.

To recap when Afloat contacted Mainport they said after acquiring the vessel which was 90% completed in 2015, that the remainder of the works were completed by Fujian Mawei Shipbuilding Ltd., and as such, the Mainport Edge will be classified as a 2023 newbuild.

In order to make the new survey support vessel suitable for the offshore wind survey sector, improvements have been made and include planned upgrade works in Turkey, where the latest update from the company, has seen the initial construction of new online and offline survey rooms, have been completed.

Also the construction of a new crane and A-frame has also been completed, and the delivery logistics are now being finalized. All this was conducted in a week, and the fact that the company had three prospective customers visit the ship is an indicator of the charter market from global geo-data specialists in the offshore energy sector.

In the forthcoming weeks a new support base for a remotely operated vessel (ROV) is also to be fitted on board Mainport Edge.

When these works are completed, Mainport will be able to add the vessel to the existing fleet of three survey support vessels that operate on the global charter market. The trio consists of Mainport Cedar, Mainport Pine, and Mainport Geo. The latter 50m vessel was the company’s previous new addition, albeit second-hand, as the former offshore supply ship Oya in 2021 was converted at Cork Dockyard into a survey/scientific vessel specifically to suit the requirements of the offshore renewables sector.

In addition, the holdings group, through a subsidiary, Celtic Tugs Ltd, has three tugs, albeit in the domestic market, based in Cork Harbour and at Foynes on the Shannon Estuary. The Celtic Rebel is currently at the Port of Cork's city-centre quays, whereas the Celtic Fergus and Celtic Treaty provide towage duties at terminals along the Shannon Estuary.

Published in Shipyards

Offshore renewable energy and its impact on Irish aquaculture and the implications of the Nature Restoration Law are among themes for this year’s annual Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) aquaculture conference next month.

An update from Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine officials on aquaculture policy and licensing is also on the agenda, along with an update on funding programmes and upcoming European Maritime and Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) schemes.

Keynote speakers will be announced shortly, according to IFA Aquaculture, which has opened registration for the conference and annual general meeting (AGM).

The conference and AGM will take place in the Kilmurry Lodge Hotel, Limerick, on Thursday, February 22nd, on the eve of the Skipper Expo at the University of Limerick sports arena on Friday, February 23rd and Saturday, February 24th.

As Afloat has reported, the third national seafarers’ conference on the theme of offshore wind also takes place on Thursday February 22nd, in the Castletroy Hotel, Limerick.

The IFA Aquaculture conference and AGM fee is 20 euro, and the conference, AGM and dinner fee is 60 euro.

Registration details are here

Published in Aquaculture

Ireland should actively seek EU funding to integrate more offshore energy supplies, according to Fine Gael MEP Seán Kelly.

Kelly, who represents the Ireland South constituency, was referring to the European Commission's plan to significantly scale-up investment in Europe's power grids, with a strong focus on accommodating more renewable energy sources.

"The Commission aims to support projects of common interest across the union,” he said.

“The emphasis on 'projects of common interest' status for key electricity projects will not only help expedite the permitting process, but also provide access to crucial EU funds. The inclusion of energy storage projects is also a strategic move to ensure a robust and resilient grid. These plans should be of great interest to Ireland,” he pointed out.

"To meet Ireland’s ambitious 80% renewable energy target by 2030 under the Climate Action Plan, the strategic importance of our offshore renewable assets cannot be underestimated,” Kelly said.

He cited the development of 900MW offshore wind projects along the south coast, spanning Waterford, Wexford, and Cork, as an example.

“This initiative holds the potential to power over 600,000 homes with affordable renewable energy, a significant step toward achieving our renewable energy goals,” he said.

“Offshore electricity infrastructure, including substations and undersea cables will all be necessary for Ireland to seamlessly integrate offshore-generated power into the mainland grid,” Kelly said.

"That’s where EU funds could be very beneficial for Ireland - I hope any such opportunities for support are seized,” he said in a statement.

Published in Power From the Sea
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The North Western Waters Advisory Council has expressed concern over plans for offshore windfarms on the south Irish coast.

A submission by the group to the Department of Environment’s “DMAP” proposal for designating areas of the south-west for offshore renewable energy (ORE) notes that a “large number” of commercially important fish species spawn there.

These include cod, whiting, haddock and herring, which would be vulnerable to impacts from surveys and construction work associated with offshore wind farms, the council says.

It notes that both cod and whiting stocks are in difficulty, and any impacts on spawning and nursery groups in the proposed DMAP area may “additionally negatively affect Irish Sea stocks as well”.

It notes that in spite of avoidance and technical measures introduced as part of fisheries management, the stocks are showing no signs of recovery.

The council represents a number of Irish and European seafood organisations and non-governmental organisations.

A submission on DMAP has also been made recently by a number of Irish seafood organisations, expressing serious concerns.

A recent EU Court of Auditors report says the impact of offshore installations on the marine environment has “not been adequately identified, analysed or addressed”.

It has also found that sharing sea space is “encouraged”, but it is not “common practice”, and it has expressed “particular” concern about “the unresolved conflict with fisheries in some countries”.

Published in Marine Planning

A European Court of Auditors report on offshore renewable energy says targets set by the EU in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may be difficult to reach, and the impact on the marine environment hasn’t been sufficiently “identified, analysed or addressed”.

As The Sunday Independent reports, the auditors’ report also expresses “particular” concern about “the unresolved conflict with fisheries in some countries”.

Four EU member states were analysed for the report, but the report’s recommendations apply to all member states, including Ireland.

The report studied progress in Germany and The Netherlands (both of whom have advanced offshore sectors), plus those of France and Spain.

EU member state targets may be delayed by planning and the effect of inflation, it says, but it says this pace may accelerate under changes to the renewable energy directive, requiring member states to designate “renewable go-to areas” on land or at sea for “overriding public interest”.

However, the audit report says the European Commission did not assess the environmental impact and impact on the fishing industry of these increased targets.

Installations of energy infrastructure at sea “may result in a progressive reduction of access to fishing areas, which could lower revenue from fishing and increase competition between fishermen,” it says.

While this may benefit some fish stocks, it claims “an improved fish population on a larger scale is uncertain”.

The report also says the scale of the planned offshore renewable energy roll-out, from a current 16GW of installed capacity to a planned 61GW in 2030 “and beyond”, may result in a “significant” environmental footprint on marine life, which “has not been taken sufficiently into account”.

The EU has argued this will require less than 3pc of the European maritime area and is “compatible with the EU’s biodiversity strategy” — but the report says deploying offshore renewable energy “might influence a much larger proportion of certain habitat types and their biodiversity”.

The Department of Environment, Climate and Communications says it is scrutinising the report, and said it underlined the importance of “plan-led” approach by Ireland to phase two projects.

The first designated maritime area plan for future offshore energy development for the south coast is out for public consultation.

Read The Sunday Independent here

Published in Fishing

A leading fishing industry leader has said that the commercial fishing and offshore wind energy sectors “must work together” if Ireland is to protect both its energy and food security.

Irish Fish Producers’ Organisation (IFPO) chief executive Aodh O Donnell said that wind farm developers have “failed to properly engage with the fishing fleet about locating wind farms in rich-fishing areas”.

“This could have a fundamental impact on how much fish the Irish fleet can catch and ultimately on our food security,” he said in a statement

“Irish fishing communities deliver one of the lowest carbon footprint sources of healthy renewable protein,” O Donnell said.

“We deserve recognition and respect for our role in Irish society and in peripheral coastal communities.”

O’Donnell said his organisation was “particularly concerned about plans to locate large sea-based wind farm projects in the Irish Sea”.

"the naïve view of wind farm developers is that fishermen can simply move"

“The choice of location for most of these projects was driven by legacy considerations revolving around optimal grid connections and project cost. It appears that even basic considerations about traditional fishing activity and sensitive spawning areas have been discounted or largely ignored,” he said.

“The richest fishing grounds are often in areas favoured by wind farms, and the naïve view of wind farm developers is that fishermen can simply move,” he adds.

“But these sea basins have been fished traditionally for generations, particularly for Dublin Bay prawns. This is a significant sustainable wild-caught fishery, which ranks as Ireland’s most valuable seafood,” he said.

‘’The seafood sector is willing to engage and work on a co-existence approach. There is an abundance of sea in the Irish EEZ (European Economic Zone) to locate wind turbines, and technological developments have enabled new possibilities,” he said.

“To avoid the worst outcomes, developers and fisher stakeholders alike must adhere to the communications standard developed by the Seafood Offshore Energy Working Group,” he said.

The group was convened by Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue in 2022.

“Our key concern is that the fishery sector is still not receiving adequate information about turbine details and locations. This is a basic prerequisite for proper engagement and meaningful consultation,” O Donnell said.

“We appreciate that the external environment is much changed, with an energy crisis driven by the Ukrainian war - and the need for energy security has accelerated the priorities,” he continued.

“ But there must be a balanced, informed, and coherent process between energy security, environmental impact, food security and fisheries interests,” he said.

Published in Fishing
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An Aran islands energy co-op has criticised a decision by Minister for Environment and Climate Eamon Ryan to exclude community projects from a new offshore wind support scheme.

The policy change has also been criticised by Ireland South MEP Seán Kelly, who has emphasised "the importance of community-led energy projects in Ireland".

Mr Ryan’s department has confirmed that a category for community projects will not be included in the third renewable energy support scheme (RESS), which is due to be initiated later this year.

It said it intends to roll out a separate “Small-Scale Generation Scheme”, as part of the policy change for RESS 3, which means that community groups do not have to compete with large-scale operators.

Kelly points out that in the first two phases of the RESS, 169 wind and solar farm projects were successful, with approximately 17 of these projects being community-owned.

He says an “alternative mechanism for community-led energy projects” should be launched as part of RESS 3 to “ensure we do not lose opportunities to support local communities to foster a sustainable and inclusive energy transition”.

Dara Ó Maoildhia, chair of Comharchumann Fuinnimh Oileáin Árainn Teoranta (CFOAT), the Aran islands energy co-op, noted that a “community-led” and “bottom-up” approach was central to a white paper on energy, passed into law by former energy minister Alex White.

“As a result of that, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) initiated the Sustainable Energy Communities Scheme (SECs), of which there are now close to 1000 across the country, “O Maoildhia said.

“Also the RESS was established, with a ringfenced section for communities,” he said.

“There is no such indication of this community-led and bottom-up policy being enacted in relation to Ireland's offshore wind,” he said.

“The only “doffing of the hat” towards it is the community benefit fund, which is a top-down approach towards communities, and not the bottom-up, community-led approach required,” Ó Maoildhia said.

Energy operators approved through existing RESS schemes are required to provide community benefit funds.

However, this fixed sum does not give communities a permanent stake in renewable energy projects which may prove to be increasingly profitable, Ó Maoildhia pointed out.

An analysis published by University College Cork (UCC) researchers last year found that community projects located on Scotland’s Western Isles generated 34 times more benefit on average for islanders than commercially operated projects.

Noting the financial challenges involved for communities, the UCC study noted that Scottish groups have been opting to co-own wind farms alongside private developers, through acquisition of a stake in a project or a number of individual turbines.

Kelly, who was the lead negotiator for the European Parliament’s biggest political grouping, the EPP, on the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive, said he has been a strong supporter of “citizen energy projects”.

The EU directive mandates EU member states to create favourable conditions for the development of these projects, such as simplifying administrative procedures, reducing regulatory barriers, and providing financial support, he pointed out.

“This includes the right to sell excess electricity back to the grid, and receive fair compensation for it,” he said.

“Ireland is targeting 7 GW of offshore wind by the end of the decade, and we must ensure that local communities have the opportunity to participate in this transition to renewable energy,” Kelly said.

Ryan’s department said that the Government’s Climate Action Plan includes a target to deliver 500MW of community renewable energy by 2030.

It said its new Small-Scale Generation Scheme, which is due to be launched later this year, “will align more closely to the capacity of the community energy sector and ensure a more sustainable delivery of this renewable energy community target”.

• Lorna Siggins interviewed Dara Ó Maoildhia for an Afloat podcast in 2021 here

Published in Power From the Sea

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

Minister for Environment and Climate Eamon Ryan has predicted that Ireland may be able to go “further, faster and bigger” in meeting and exceeding targets for emission reduction and renewable energy.

As The Times Ireland edition reports, Ryan told the Wind Energy Ireland annual conference that reductions in emissions in 2020 represented a “real achievement”.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has confirmed that emissions from Irish power generation and major industrial companies fell by 6.4 per cent last year to their lowest level since the EU emissions trading system was introduced over 15 years ago.

Ryan welcomed the EPA recording of an 8.4 per cent drop in power generation emissions – attributed to the influence of renewable energy.

He noted that Ireland had set a 40 per cent target for renewables last year, and had actually met 43 per cent.

Referring to the 50 per cent reduction in emissions, and 70 per cent renewable energy by the end of this decade, Ryan said “I think we might be able to break through that....”

Development of offshore power would be a key part of this next stage, Ryan said.

Seven projects which already have consent would proceed, and auctions would then be held next year for new projects which come under the new marine area consent system, he said.

The new Maritime Area Planning (MAP) Bill – formerly titled the Marine Planning and Development Management Bill – is one of the Government’s “top three” priority pieces of legislation, Ryan said.

He said it would provide for a “ steady predictable phased routine process” of licensing and approving offshore wind.

A new national marine planning framework – equivalent to a marine version of the national spatial plan – is also due to be put on a statutory footing shortly.

A senior civil servant warned that the State needs to take a more “holistic” approach to managing offshore renewable to “learn from some of the things that happened onshore”.

Martina Hennessy, who is the principal officer with responsibility for offshore energy in Ryan’s department, said that “communication” was key, along with engagement with sectoral groups..

Ms Hennessy and Conor McCabe, principal officer with responsibility for marine planning in the housing department, said there would be a “use it or lose it” approach to marine area consents.

Measures would be taken to ensure there was no “hoarding” of consent areas, they said.

Read The Times here

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Ireland’s push to develop offshore renewable energy doesn’t have to be at the expense of sensitive marine habitats, a Government advisor has said.

As reports today, existing provisions “should be used” to protect vulnerable habitats and species pending legislation underpinning marine protected habitats (MPAs), Prof Tasman Crowe of University College, Dublin (UCD) has said.

Prof Crowe, who is chair of the Government’s expert group on MPAs, was commenting as Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien opened a six-month public consultation.

Members of the public have until July 30th to comment on the plan to expand Ireland’s marine protected area network.

MPAs are geographically defined maritime areas that provide levels of protection to achieve conservation objectives. Currently, about 2.14 per cent of Ireland’s maritime area is protected under the existing EU Birds and Habitats Directives.

The Programme for Government includes a commitment to expand Ireland’s network of MPAs to 10% of its maritime area as soon as is practical - and to meet a higher target of MPAs constituting 30% of its maritime area by 2030.

It says this is in line with the recently published EU Biodiversity Strategy, and commitments under a number of international treaties including the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

However, the Irish Wildlife Trust last month expressed fears that legislation to designate marine areas for offshore wind projects will be in place long before legislation on MPAs.

The environmental group also questioned why it took Mr O’Brien three months to publish a report produced by Prof Crowe’s group, which was submitted last October and released by the minister in January.

One of the key findings of Prof Crowe’s report – which does not propose specific MPAs - is that there is no enabling legislation for these protected zones.

Provision was to have been made for MPAs in the Marine Planning and Development Management Bill, which is currently before the Oireachtas and which will allow for planning sectoral activities such as offshore wind and wave.

Prof Crowe acknowledged this week that while in other jurisdictions, it was common practice for the two frameworks – conservation and sectoral planning - to be developed at the same time, it was more appropriate that they should be considered separately.

Conservation is larger than a sectoral activity at sea in focusing on both ecosystems and interactions with the environment, he says.

Prof Crowe’s expert group report explains that MPAs do not have to mean cessation of all activity in a designated protected zone.

“MPAs can support economic activity associated with the sea; for example, by conserving areas of particular importance to marine ecosystems and ensuring that human activity is kept at a level that will sustain biological diversity, natural productivity, human health and well-being,” it has said.

“ MPAs can also help reduce the effects of climate change and ocean acidification by ensuring that marine ecosystems are healthy and resilient and that the marine environment can act as a natural carbon storage system,” it states.

Read more in here

The public consultation is open here

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