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Displaying items by tag: Lough Ree

As the festive season draws near, the volunteers at Lough Ree RNLI are throwing open the doors of the lifeboat station at Coosan Point for a special Christmas sale next Saturday afternoon (26 November).

RNLI Christmas cards are central to the charity’s fundraising drive at this time of year. Always high on the shopping list of supporters, the Christmas cards and other RNLI merchandise will be on sale at the new lifeboat station on Saturday afternoon next from 1pm.

Lough Ree RNLI treasurer Vincent Rafter said: “The public support of the charity and its volunteers are crucial for the organisation. So far this year Lough Ree RNLI volunteer crew has responded to 47 call outs on the lake.

“Over the past two years RNLI fundraising in the Midlands has been focussed on the provision of the new lifeboat station which opened in June. The facility itself is fast becoming a major attraction in the area with volunteers hosting planned visits every month.”

Recently the volunteer crew were pleased to receive an encouraging note of thanks, following a visit from a young girl in Athlone.

Eliza Crosbie (9) from Retreat Heights was part of a group from St Ciaran’s NS, Baylin who visited the lifeboat station recently. In her letter she expressed an interest in helping the charity in any way and perhaps making use of her life saving skills. The letter was accompanied by a colourful drawing of the lifeboat on the water.

Station visits officer at Lough Ree RNLI, Paul Kelly said: “The visits are a new initiative for us and this is one of the first responses we have received. The future of the RNLI is assured with the enthusiasm Eliza and her friends have expressed for the organisation.“”

So impressed were the Lough Ree RNLI volunteer crew with the letter that they invited Eliza to the station this week for a personal tour. Paul and Lough Ree RNLI operations manager Kevin Ganly made a small presentation to Eliza to mark the occasion.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Waterways Ireland advises masters of vessels and waterway users on the Shannon Navigation that jetty upgrade works at Coosan Point on Lough Ree are under way as of Tuesday 25 October.

Originally set to continue to next Wednesday 2 November, the works were completed ahead of schedule on Friday 28 October.

The jetty lights that were turned off to facilitate these works have now operating again, the cross-border body for Ireland’s inland waterways confirmed.

Elsewhere, re-decking of the floating jetties in Dromineer on Lough Derg will commence on Tuesday 1 November.

Security fencing will be erected around the front of the gangway to restrict access onto the floating jetties for the duration of the works, which are expected to take around six weeks to complete.

This story was updated on Friday 28 October to note the early completion of works at Coosan Point.

Published in Inland Waterways

Lough Ree RNLI marked a significant milestone on Monday (17 October) when a cheque for €100,000 was presented as the local community contribution to the overall €1.2m cost of the new lifeboat station on a site donated by the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland.

The presentation was made by Michael Ganly, chairman of the Lough Ree RNLI Appeal Committee to Anna Classon, the RNLI’s regional head for Ireland.

On her first visit to the new lifeboat station, which was opened this past June, Classon said she was “really impressed by the partnership between the RNLI and the IWAI and to see two great organisations sharing resources for the benefit of the community”.

The community contribution was the result of a fundraising campaign which ran for more than 12 months and was supported by community groups, the corporate sector and a host of individuals for the lakeside community and beyond.

Presenting the cheque, Ganly said: “The work of people like committee secretary Pauline Irwin and all others involved was crucial to the success of the venture.”

The new lifeboat station has been very active this year and has been a particular asset to the 46 volunteer crew as the charity and its lifeboat Tara Scougall have responded to 46 callouts in the year to date.

Reflecting on the successful fundraising campaign, Lough Ree RNLI treasurer Vincent Rafter thanked “all the GoFundMe campaigns, tests of endurance and anonymous donors who contributed amounts large and small to this special community initiative”.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Waterways Ireland advises all masters of vessels and users on the Shannon Navigation that the Coosan Point jetties on Lough Ree will be closed from Monday 3 to Thursday 6 October for improvement works.

Published in Inland Waterways

The volunteer crew of Lough Ree RNLI were involved in the rescue of 133 people in 42 different incidents on the lake and River Shannon so far this year.

The charity’s volunteers embarked on their first callout of 2022 on the afternoon of St Patrick’s Day and have since gone to the assistance of 40 boats in difficulty on the inland waterways.

Fortunately, all 133 people who needed the charity’s assistance were rescued safely and no injuries were reported.

In the most significant incident, 10 people were escorted to safety when a small boat capsized near the N6 motorway bridge in August, while nine people were on board a cruiser which ran aground on the Hexagon Shoal in June.

Groundings of boats on the Hexagon Shoal accounted for a quarter of all callouts this year.

Speaking at the charity’s headquarters at Coosan Point this week, Lough Ree RNLI lifeboat operations manager Kevin Ganly said: “It appears that the provision of additional markers around the Hexagon Shoal in recently by Waterways Ireland has improved safety in that area of the lake. Nonetheless the charity and its volunteers remain always ‘on call’ to respond to any emergencies.”

The new lifeboat station, which was operational for the first time this summer, has proven to be a particular asset, Lough Ree RNLI says.

In recent weeks volunteer crew from across the Midlands and West have used the facility for casualty care training. The station’s designated slipway at Coosan Point has also contributed to more efficient launches of the charity’s lifeboat Tara Scougall.

The lifeboat station is base for more than 40 volunteers who along with their families generously give of their time and expertise to assist the local community.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

At 9.44 pm (Saturday 13 August) Lough Ree RNLI was tasked by the Irish Coast Guard to assist 10 people on board a speedboat in danger of sinking on the River Shannon near the M6 Bridge in Athlone, Co. Westmeath.

Launched at 9.58 pm under helm Kieran Sloyan the charity’s lifeboat with volunteer crew of Kieran Scullion, Patrick Walsh and Stewart McMickan reached the scene in six minutes.

On arrival at the scene the crew found that the ten people on board had been transferred to another vessel while the speedboat had capsized and sunk.

Lough Ree RNLI lifeboat escorted the vessel with the ten casualties to Athlone Marina, where all were found to be well.

This was the second ‘shout’ of the weekend for Lough Ree RNLI. On Friday last (12 August), the volunteer crew responded to a ‘Mayday’ call from a 50ft. cruiser with three people on board which was experiencing engine difficulties on the northern end of the lake. On arrival at the scene, the stricken vessel was inspected and taken under tow to Lanesboro, Co. Longford.

The rescues this weekend brings to 29 the number of people assisted by Lough Ree RNLI this month.

Lough Ree RNLILough Ree RNLI return to base

Last weekend (Sunday 7 August) the volunteer crew responded to three separate incidents in the afternoon. Cruisers stranded on the Hexagon Shoal and Kings Island, with a total of five people on board, were towed to safe water. In a separate incident a boat with three people on board was towed to Lecarrow, Co. Roscommon having had engine difficulty.

Earlier this month the charity's volunteer crews went to the assistance of boats in difficulty at the Hexagon Shoal, Bantry Bay and Inchmore Island which were escorted to safety.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Waterways Ireland advises masters of vessels on the Shannon Navigation that diving operations will be conducted on the floating breakwaters in four locations between Lough Ree and Limerick from Thursday 11 August until next Friday 19 August.

Masters of vessels are requested to proceed with additional caution in the vicinity of the diving operations taking place at Ballyleague on Lough Ree, Castle Harbour in Portumna and Garrykennedy on Lough Derg, and Limerick city.

Published in Inland Waterways

Waterways Ireland advises masters of vessels on the Shannon Navigation that eight small green navigation markers will be installed at the Hexagon Shoal in Lough Ree from Monday 1 August for a trial period.

Four of these markers will be installed on the north side of Marker 615, with the rest installed on the east side of that marker.

Waterways Ireland also advises boaters to always use an up-to-date navigation guide when boating on the Shannon Navigation.

Published in Inland Waterways

Just after 8am on Monday morning (18 July), Lough Ree RNLI was requested to go to the aid of four people on board a stranded cruiser near Clawinch Island.

It brought to 19 the total number of people assisted across six incidents this week for the Co Westmeath lifeboat station.

The lifeboat crew located the 32ft cruiser which had run aground on rocks south of the island. After confirming that all four people on board were well and following a hull inspection, the stricken vessel was towed to safe water and continued under its own power.

The rocks around the Hexagon Shoal claimed another casualty when on Sunday (17 July) the inshore lifeboat Tara Scougall with her volunteer crew was called to the assist five people on board a speedboat on the rocks.

Launched at 2.42pm under helm Kieran Sloyan, the lifeboat reached the scene in minutes and found that three people had been taken on board a passing vessel while the remaining two were rescued by the lifeboat crew.

The speedboat, which was holed and taking water, was towed to Coosan Point where it was beached.

While this callout was continuing, the lifeboat station was alerted to an incident at Coosan Point where a member of the public had been injured while jumping into the lake. The casualty was assisted by Shane McCormack, a volunteer helm and casualty care specialist.

In a double callout last Thursday (14 July), Lough Ree RNLI responded to a call for assistance at midday to five people on board a stranded cruiser on the Hexagon Shoal. The cruiser was towed to safe water and headed north towards Lanesboro.

While returning from this call, the volunteer crew were diverted to another incident near Inchclearaun where a 27ft cruiser with one person on board was stranded on rocks. Following inspection, the boat was towed off the rocks and continued north.

Last Monday (11 July) Lough Ree RNLI’s volunteer crew were called to assist a 40ft cruiser with five people on board which was stranded on rocks at Kids Island. After safety checks, the boat was towed to safe water.

Following this busy week and weekend on and off the water, Lough Ree RNLI lifeboat operations manager Kevin Ganly appealed for anyone using amenities around Coosan Point to “stay well away from the slipway and launch area for the charity’s lifeboat. At busy times congestion in the area can hamper the launch of the lifeboat responding to an emergency call.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Despite a quiet start to 2022 on Midlands waters, Lough Ree RNLI’s volunteer crews responded to their 20th callout of the year on Saturday evening (9 July) after a request to assist a boat with three on board in difficulty near Beam Island.

Launched just after 8pm, the inshore lifeboat Tara Scougall —under helm Stan Bradbury and volunteer crew Liam Sheringham and Paul Kelly — reached the stricken 28ft vessel in under 10 minutes.

The sailing boat was found to be run aground on rocks at Beam Island. All three people on board were found to be well and after an initial inspection, the boat was towed into safe waters and continued under its own power.

Lough Ree RNLI lifeboat operations manager Kevin Ganly said: “As we move into the busiest part of the holiday season, it is important that everybody who uses the lake is well prepared, has informed family and friends of their itinerary and follow the navigation guidance on the lake. As always the charity’s volunteer crew will be on standby to respond whenever necessary.”

So far this year Lough Ree RNLI has assisted more than 50 people on Lough Ree and the River Shannon. As it celebrates its 10th birthday, the lifeboat station has responded to almost 600 calls and assisted upwards of 1,300 people throughout the decade.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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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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