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UKSA is launching a new Port Operative Apprenticeship Programme, due to start this summer, as it expands its maritime career pathways.

Isle of Wight based charity, UKSA, has designed the programme to give young people the opportunity to start on the maritime career ladder in a vital port operative role which allows businesses and organisations to deliver cargo on time and within a safe environment. The course will provide students with all the necessary skills, knowledge, and qualifications to carry out port operative duties safely and competently whilst being trained by industry-leading instructors working at UKSA.

In conjunction with the launch, UKSA is looking for interested port operators and employers to get in touch with the aim to forge partnerships for the apprenticeship programme to offer students Government funded work placements.

Starting August 2022, apprentices will undertake initial training at UKSA’s all-inclusive four-acre waterside academy in Cowes, before embarking on 12 months of work-related training. Following this, apprentices will be ready to carry out port operative duties and work on board any type and size of moored or anchored vessel in a port.

Ben Willows, CEO of UKSA said: “Adding the Port Operative Apprenticeship alongside UKSA’s current Workboat Apprenticeship Programme further cements our commitment to providing training pathways that create exciting and more crucially, long-term maritime careers opportunities. It’s a fantastic opportunity for young people to take advantage of with the aim of securing them gainful employment with one of the many fantastic operators we have in the port sector.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to urge any local port operators and businesses to get in touch if they would like to partner with us for the apprenticeship programme to provide vital work placements as part of the course.”

During the course, apprentices will gain qualifications in RYA Powerboat Level 2, a certificate in RYA Marine Radio Short Range and Elementary First Aid. The skills achieved during the training include control vehicle movements, hazards, types of plant and equipment, different types of port operation and UK handled cargo, the importance of commercial principles and how to work safely and professionally. UKSA also has the flexibility on this programme to add on other training modules including STCW dependent on the employers’ specific requirements to make the training a bespoke experience.

Apprentices must be aged 18 and over to attend the course but require no previous experience. Apprentices without a level 1 English and Maths must achieve this and take the test for level 2 prior to taking their end-point assessment.

Published in Maritime Training
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One of the theories examined when Ever Given's huge container ship lost control of its steerage and blocked the Suez Canal was whether a cyberattack had disrupted its navigational systems. That had not happened, but the disruption to global trade which was caused has focused increasing attention on the protection of maritime infrastructure against cyberattacks, and the International Maritime Organisation has issued a warning about them.

Kerry-based offshore sailor, lifeboat volunteer, and sea angler Kieran Caulfield is Enterprise Director at the Irish cyber security company, Renaissance. According to him, the threat is very real.

He is my Podcast guest this week and says the developing Irish offshore energy sector, as well as shipping, port operations, fishing vessels, safety and navigation systems, could be targets.

Podcast here

Published in Tom MacSweeney
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Danish designers have urged Irish ports and local authorities to avail of public waterfronts to tackle the housing crisis.

As The Times Ireland reports, Danish company Urban Rigger, which used Lego principles to convert containers into floating homes, says that the ports of Cork, Dublin and Belfast would be well suited.

Using available port quay space takes the cost of land out of the equation at a time when its cost is spiralling all over the world, the company’s chief executive Lars Funding says.

The model of “upcycling” containers for homes is both “sustainable” and involves predictable construction costs, Funding claims.

Urban Rigger was designed by the world-famous architect Bjarke Ingels, who created his floating student village of 72 apartments in the Danish capital, Copenhagen.

The riggers draw on surrounding seawater serves as a natural source for heat with the help of low energy pumps; while solar panels work as a clean source of fuel to run electricity; Funding explains.

Danish company Urban Rigger uses Lego principles to convert containers into floating homesDanish company Urban Rigger uses Lego principles to convert containers into floating homes

“We would prefer to work directly with municipalities on lease arrangements which could run for 20 years, and we team up with local developers who want to invest in something which gives a very stable income return,” Funding said.

“There is waterfront available in both Cork and Dublin ports, and we are also targeting the US and Canada, while we also have a project in India,” he said.

Cork port’s deep water development at Ringaskiddy opens up city quay areas for this type of accommodation, he says. 

However, TU Dublin senior lecturer in housing Dr Lorcan Sirr said that while there was always “room for creative housing ideas”, the scale of the Danish idea meant it was more of a “niche solution”.

“Banks may not want to lend for something that is not tied to the ground, and any such developments would have to have access to transport and education,” Sirr said.

“If you take Cork as an example, there are over 4,000 empty houses in Cork city and there is also vacant space above shops which is lying empty because owners can claim 50 per cent of rates back,” Sirr said.

Sirr cited a study by University College Cork’s (UCC) Centre for Planning Education and Research on the potential of city centre living in its historic quarter.

Read The Times here 

Published in Ports & Shipping
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In Q2 2021, Roll/on – Roll/off (or RoRo): RoRo volumes through ports in the Republic of Ireland (ROI) were consistent with those in Q2 2019 (1). Between April and June, 291,437 RoRo units were handled at Dublin, Cork and Rosslare Europort, just 0.2% less than the same period in 2019. However, the configuration of RoRo traffic in terms of route choice and shipping mode has been significantly altered compared to 2019.

The following is a summary of the most pronounced trends that have emerged in the RoRo freight market:

71% of all ROI RoRo traffic is now unaccompanied, compared to 63% in Q2 2019.

One third of all RoRo traffic in the Republic of Ireland now operates on direct routes to ports in the European Union, twice the share held in Q2 2019. In the first 6 months of 2021, ROI – EU traffic is just 7% below its annual total for all of 2020, and Q2 2021 was the busiest on record for these direct routes.

In terms of capacity, Irish importers and exporters have benefitted from a significant increase in the choice of direct EU services in 2021. After responding to a surge in ‘direct demand’, there are now 12 different direct EU RoRo services available to Irish traders, compared to 5 in 2019 (2).

ROI – GB RoRo traffic has declined significantly since January 2021. Volumes in Q1 2021 were distorted by a pre-Brexit stockpile, combined with strict COVID-19 restrictions in January and February. Q2 2021, therefore, provides a more reliable insight into current volumes on ROI – GB routes. In Q2 2021, ROI – GB volumes fell by 20% compared to Q2 2019. For the first 6 months of the year, GB traffic declined by 29% compared to 2019. ROI – GB traffic now accounts 67% of ROI volumes, compared to 84% two years ago.

In Northern Ireland (NI), RoRo traffic in Q2 2021 was the busiest on record, with traffic rising by 11% when compared Q2 2019. Of the three Northern Ireland RoRo ports, Belfast and Warrenpoint both recorded their busiest ever three-month period, with Larne also recording robust growth.

Underpinning all of these trends are the new customs and trading arrangements between Ireland and the UK that came into force on January 1st 2021 after Great Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union. Brexit has had a significant effect on RoRo traffic on the island of Ireland. The most prominent impact has been on the use of the UK Landbridge, a term used to describe a route to market that connects Irish importers and exporters to international markets via the UK road and ports network. Demand for the Landbridge has fallen considerably, and this has driven the simultaneous decline in ROI – GB traffic and increase in direct ROI – EU traffic.

In addition to the Landbridge issue, some RoRo traffic has also been ‘transferred’ away from ROI - GB routes and towards NI – GB routes. RoRo services at ROI ports have historically been utilised by many NI hauliers wishing to access markets in the midlands and southeast of England. From early 2021, it was clear that haulage companies based in Northern Ireland had transferred some traffic away from RoRo services in ROI in order to avoid the new customs requirements involved between Ireland and UK ports.

The new Ship to Shore gantry cranes operating at the Port of Cork in RingaskiddyThe new Ship to Shore gantry cranes operating at the Port of Cork in Ringaskiddy Photo: Bob Bateman

Lift/on – Lift/off (LoLo):

LoLo volumes through ROI ports set a record in Q2 2021, surpassing 300,000 TEUs for the first time. Since the initial wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ireland, LoLo traffic has average 5% growth each quarter on a seasonally adjusted basis. Beginning in late 2020, LoLo traffic has returned to volumes that have not been recorded since before the financial crash in 2008.

The vast majority of LoLo services on the island of Ireland are direct to continental EU ports. As a result, many of the factors that have driven a surge in ROI – EU RoRo traffic are applicable to the Irish LoLo market. LoLo volumes have benefitted greatly from the demand from Irish importers and exports to access EU markets directly, without the need to adhere to customs requirements at UK ports since Brexit.

In Q2 2021, LoLo volumes grew by 10% when compared to Q2 2019. Overall, in the last nine months, the substitutability between accompanied RoRo, unaccompanied RoRo and LoLo services has become more pronounced, with increased competition and dynamic capacity evident in each market.

Passengers

As highlighted in the IMDO’s Q1 report, no Irish maritime market segment has been more severely disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and its accompanying restrictions than the market for passengers. Tourism / passenger numbers in the Republic of Ireland increased by 43% in Q2 2021 when compared to Q2 2020, a period that encompassed the first wave of travel restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic. When compared to Q2 2019, passenger numbers declined by 87%.

In Northern Ireland, passenger numbers rose significantly this quarter. This was driven predominantly by the easing of restrictions on intra-UK travel when compared to Q2 2020. NI passenger numbers rose by 320% when compared to Q2 2020, and declined by 30% when compared to Q2 2019.

Brittany Ferries departs Cork HarbourBrittany Ferries departs Cork Harbour

(1) As Q2 2020 encompassed the steepest decline in port traffic as a result of COVID-19 economic restrictions, it represents an uncharacteristically low volume of RoRo traffic for Irish ports. 2019 is a more reliable benchmark as it represents the highest annual volume of RoRo traffic recorded through ROI ports.

(2) The RoRo market for both EU and GB services remains extremely competitive and dynamic. As a result, capacity, route choice and frequency have changed frequently as shipping operators adapt to new demand patterns. ­

Published in Ports & Shipping
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Ports and “port cities” from Cork to Dublin to Europe and beyond will play an influential role in redesigning urban centres.

That’s the view of the European University of Post-Industrial Cities (UNIC) alliance, involving University College Cork (UCC) and seven other universities.

UCC’s Civic and Community Engagement is hosting a UNIC CityLabs conference on the issue today (Thurs, June 11) as part of Cork Harbour Festival.

Participants will include Associate professor Amanda Brandellero, Erasmus University Rotterdam School of History, Culture and Communication and member of the 'Port City Futures' group in the Netherlands; Lar Joye, Port Heritage Director, Dublin Port Company; Conor Mowlds, Chief Commercial Officer, Port of Cork Company; and Feargal Reidy Director of Strategic and Economic Development, Cork City Council.

The discussion, which will be chaired by journalist Lorna Siggins, will open with music by UCC Quercus scholar, student and harpist Síofra Thornton.

The online event will be hosted on Zoom.

Register for free here

 

Published in Irish Ports
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In documents seen by RTÉ News, Ireland is in breach of the World Health Organization's International Health Regulations (IHR) on contagious disease control by failing to designate a 'competent authority' at its ports and airports.

The documents also show that Ireland has been non-compliant for approximately a decade, despite high-level discussions on the issue between the Health Service Executive, Department of Health and Department of Transport.

Under the IHR a 'competent authority' at points of entry must be designated to monitor the risk of dangerous contagious diseases entering the State.

Ireland has no such designated competent authority points of entry to the country.

Ireland reported substantial compliance in most other areas of the IHR, which were updated in 2005 to improve international pandemic preparedness in the wake of the 2002-4 SARS epidemic.

In a statement, the Department of Health said that the non-compliance with the IHR does not affect Ireland’s pandemic response at ports and airports in any practical way. The statement said that checks are carried out by health officers under existing domestic law and other regulations.

In the records, released under Freedom of Information, senior HSE staff expressed concern that the failure to designate a competent authority at points of entry was also a breach of EU cross-border regulations, which require IHR compliance.

In a document dated January 2020, Dr John Cuddihy, the Health Surveillance Protection Centre’s interim director, reported that no competent authority existed at Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports.

The ports of Dublin, Cork, Rosslare, (incl. ferry operations) along with Limerick and Waterford also recorded no designated competent authority.

RTE has much more here on this story.

Published in Irish Ports

Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue has come to the rescue of Donegal islanders with fishing boats registered in Northern Ireland who were blocked from landing into their nearest port by the Brexit deal.

Northern Irish vessels and boats owned by fishermen in the Republic which are on the British register were informed that they could only land into two designated ports - Killybegs, Co Donegal and Castletownbere, Co Cork – after January 1st.

The State’s Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) had recently initiated an investigation into “unauthorised” landings into Greencastle, Co Donegal.

However, Mr McConalogue says he has arranged for vessels on the British register to land into five additional ports - Greencastle, Burtonport and Rathmullan in Donegal, Ros-a-Mhíl in Galway and Howth in Co Dublin.

He said he was “ working to make sure the necessary notifications and requirements are in place to have these ports operational from Monday, February 1st”.

Under the new designations, Ros a Mhíl and Howth will be able to accommodate landings of demersal (whitefish) catch from vessels under 24 metres, Monday to Friday from 10 am to 10 pm.

Greencastle, Rathmullen and Burtonport will be designated for non-quota species landings from vessels under 18 metres and will operate from 2 pm to 8 pm from Monday to Friday, he said.

These designated hours are due to the need for oversight by the SFPA, he said.

He described it as “an important decision which will allow fishers in small vessels to continue their livelihoods in a safe manner”.

“Following Brexit, it is important now more than ever, to support our fishers and fishing communities and to do all we can do help them continue their livelihoods,” Mr McConalgoue said.

He said that any UK Northern Ireland registered boats landing into any of the seven Irish ports will have to comply with additional documentary and more procedural requirements than before Brexit.

The SFPA had confirmed last week in response to queries about its investigations that UK registered fishing vessels, including those vessels which are registered to addresses in Northern Ireland, are subject to new EU fisheries and food safety controls”.

These “reflect the UK’s status now as a third country,” the SFPA said.

It confirmed Killybegs and Castletownbere as the only two ports allowed to continue to receive landings under two separate designations - the Illegal, Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated – Third Country (IUU-TC) designation and North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) regulations.

The development prompted calls last week by a Northern Irish fish industry executive for “Dublin to reciprocate” an arrangement where all seven Northern Irish ports are still open to vessels on the Republic’s register.

The west Cork vessel Rachel Jay was first Irish vessel since the Brexit regulations came into force to land into Lisahally in Derry with mackerel caught off the Scottish coast.

Alan McCulla of the Anglo North Irish Fish Producers’ Organisation said that while he welcomed the Rachel Jay and other Irish landings, he questioned why “when Belfast saw this coming, Dublin did not”.

“The Northern Irish authorities were able to take measures to keep our ports open to Irish vessels, “he said, adding that “the EU still rules Ireland’s waves”.

Under legislation which was controversially amended in 2019, Northern Irish vessels can fish within the Republic’s six-mile limit – but the legislation does not provide for landing.

The Sea Fisheries Amendment Act 2019 formalised in law a “voisinage” agreement which had existed between the Republic and Northern Ireland since the 1960s, and which was challenged by Greencastle fisherman Gerard Kelly.

Published in Fishing
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#Maritime - Is Ireland a model to follow when it comes to maritime strategy?

It is according to Simon Mercieca of the University of Malta, who blogs on the Malta Independent website about the need for his country to take lessons from the Irish experience.

Citing his visit to a maritime history conference at University College Cork late last year, Dr Mercieca is full of praise for Marine Minister Simon Coveney and his department's focus on revitalising Ireland's ports and coastal areas.

That stands in stark contrast to the situation on Malta as Dr Mercieca would have it, describing a country where maritime "is today a non-entity in our political discussion".

"Despite the fact that Malta built its fortune on its geographical position in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, the country now lacks a serious maritime vision."

The Malta Independent has more on the story HERE.

Published in Ports & Shipping
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#ports – The Cabinet has approved the draft General Scheme of a new Bill with important implications for Ireland's vital port sector, Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar has announced. The Harbours (Amendment) Bill 2014 will allow the five designated Ports of Regional Significance in Drogheda, Dún Laoghaire, Galway, New Ross and Wicklow to transfer to local authority ownership at a future date, in line with Government policy to strengthen local government.

These five ports play an important role through tourism, leisure amenity, and regional trade. The Government has decided that their future is best secured under strong local governance.

The draft legislation builds upon Minister Varadkar's ongoing reform of the State commercial ports sector as announced in last year's new National Ports Policy.

"This is an important Bill for the ports sector, which plays a major role in the Irish economy. The National Ports Policy encourages each port, whether small or large, to develop its full potential to ensure that they can all contribute to further growth in the ports sector. Transferring the five regional ports to local authority management at a future date will be the best way to protect their future and ensure good governance," Minister Varadkar said.

Sea-borne freight through Ireland's ports sector accounts for 84% of Ireland's trade in volume and 62% in value terms. Many of Ireland's major exporting sectors such as pharmaceuticals, chemicals and food rely heavily on sea transport.

The Bill will also introduce higher standards for appointments to the boards at Ireland's largest port companies at Dublin, Cork, Shannon Foynes and Waterford. It will set out specific skillsets for potential appointees, introduce term limits and make it a legal requirement for Chairmen-designate to appear before the relevant Oireachtas committee prior to their appointment. This is already a non-statutory Government requirement.

The draft Bill will now be sent to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport & Communications for detailed consideration by all its members.

Details of draft Bill

The main purpose of the Bill is to provide the necessary amendments to allow for a later transfer of the five designated Ports of Regional Significance - Drogheda, Dún Laoghaire, Galway, New Ross and Wicklow - to local authority ownership

The Bill provides for flexibility in the form of the actual transfer, which may be a transfer of Ministerial shareholding in the existing company, or a dissolution of the company structure and full integration within local authority structures.

The second major theme of the Bill is to further improve the board selection and appointment process to the Ports of National Significance at Dublin, Cork, Shannon Foynes and Waterford such as by specifying certain required skillsets, introducing term limits and requiring Chairpersons designate appear before the relevant Oireachtas committee prior to appointment.

Published in Ports & Shipping
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#Cruises - Cruise Ireland's members will meet in January to discuss controversial proposals to change the way the organisation is funded.

At November's board meeting of the industry body representing interests in the Irish cruise industry, the Port of Cork's commercial manager Michael McCarthy charged that Ireland's biggest ports in Dublin and Cork should no longer be Cruise Ireland's primary funders.

McCarthy cited the wish for greater contributions from other tourist venues that reap the biggest business from Ireland's cruise traffic.

Echoing his sentiments, Cruise Ireland chair Eamonn O'Reilly noted that the body's current subscription model of 'the bigger you are, the more you pay' was no longer tenable in an increasingly competitive cruise marketplace - in light of plans by Dun Laoghaire, among other ports, to attract cruise liners.

O'Reilly, who is chief executive of the Dublin Port Company, proposed of a flat membership fee of €10,000 - which was objected to by a number of those present.

And though the matter was deferred for further discussion in the New Year, O'Relly shared Dublin Port's position that it would not not commit to funding Cruise Ireland under the current model beyond 2014.

Other matters discussed at November's meeting included a review of Cruise Ireland's marketing strategy at important international trade shows, in order to more effectively sell Ireland as a key European cruise destination.

Cruise Ireland's next meeting will take place on 21 January 2014.

Published in Cruise Liners
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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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