INVESTMENT in maritime area wind energy projects is being held back by the lack of clarity around the time it takes to assess planning applications.
Liam Curran, senior technologist, water, wastewater and marine technologies, Enterprise Ireland, says the sector is hoping that the Maritime Area Foreshore Amendment (MAFA) Bill will progress quickly to become legislation.
At present, potential investors have no idea how long they’ll be waiting for an answer. Meanwhile, the UK is driving on with its goal to produce 30GW of maritime wind energy by 2030. The global wind turbine market is set to be worth more than €45bn by 2022.
The Our Ocean Wealth Summit at Cork City Hall on Monday and Tuesday, June 9 and 10, will look at the actions required for Ireland to harness to the huge energy potential of its surrounding waters. Fast-tracking the MAFA Bill would be a useful first step.
“We need to give potential investors some clarity and certainty around the permitting processes,” said Liam Curran. “This industry is all about reducing the risks. We hope to get the permitting issue resolved as quickly as possible. Right now, an investor has no obvious end horizon in their line of sight as to when their application will be accepted or rejected.
“Of course, the uncertainty around price is also a big issue for the sector. We also need to work on the weak grid connection along the West Coast. The East Coast grid connection is a bit better, which is good as it’s close to the biggest power users in Dublin, but the eventual export potential of West Coast offshore energy is where the really big opportunity lies.”
Ireland does have four wind energy projects in the Irish Sea, ‘nearshore’ wind turbines bolted to the sea floor. While the far bigger floating ‘offshore’ turbines are, as yet, in a development phase, the global industry is keenly aware of the ideal conditions on Ireland’s west coast.
In March, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) was given approval for a €31m pilot project deploying a floating wind turbine off the coast near Belmullet, Co Mayo. This pilot sees Ireland dipping a significant toe into a sector in which some of the world’s biggest engineering companies are racing to develop a supply chain.
Enterprise Ireland’s long-term interest in the sector is fairly clear. Creating long-term, high-quality employment along the coast would sustain rural communities for generations hence.
While aligning itself to the ultimate dream of Ireland Inc being a leading player when the world’s offshore energy sector takes off in earnest, it is also following the pragmatic policy of aligning Irish companies with the UK’s ambitions for the sector.
“There is huge interest within the UK’s industry in Irish offshore capability. We really want Irish companies to connect with the sector in the UK,” said Liam Curran. “What we have done in our London office is to set up mentoring for people to help them in meeting up with companies in the UK.
“Naturally, the potential for the sector dovetails nicely with Enterprise Ireland’s commitments to rural development, creating quality employment in rural communities.
“I was in Wick in Scotland, where the Beatrice offshore will have 90 full-time quality jobs once it’s completed. It’s a town the size of Bantry, where you’d find it hard to attract big multinationals to set up.”
The sector currently employs 11,000 people in the UK, half and half directly and indirectly. The UK also seems deeply committed to its 30GW by 2030 ambition for the sector, especially given its decision not to go ahead with planned new nuclear plants.
Another significant plus with offshore wind energy is the fact that the turbines are miles out to sea, far from view and thus at a remove from potential landowner objections. And, of course, as a totally renewable energy source, it ticks every box in terms of reducing the nation’s carbon footprint.
“Ireland’s development of offshore wind energy is the only realistic way that we can deliver on our climate change strategy,” said Mr Curran. “The financial case for Ireland to harness the energy potential of the sea is compelling. Unlike a conventional power plant, you don’t pay for the fuel. It really is an endless natural resource.”
Meanwhile, at the Our Ocean Wealth Summit in Cork City Hall, 22 Irish companies will showcase their wares in to a mix of nearshore and offshore industry buyers from the UK, from Norway, France and the Middle East. Among those companies will be 8 West Consulting and ARQ Assist Solutions, both of which are also featured here.
SafeTrx is the world’s leading non-GMDSS (Global Maritime Distress and Safety System) maritime smartphone safety application in the marketplace, in use in 12 countries and growing rapidly.
Developed by 8 West Consulting in close co-operation with the Irish Coast Guard and global SAR professionals, the SafeTrx app is used by approximately 240,000 users from Australia to Norway to ensure their safety at sea.
Briefly, SafeTrx is a vessel tracking and alerting solution that is designed to take the search out of Search and Rescue. It is rapidly replacing old in-shore radio frequency devices. Cork-based 8 West Consulting employs over 240 staff.
“Coast Guards say that 95% of all call outs are within 5km of the shore. The same is true right across the world,” said Paul Ryan, 8 West’s head of new business development. “With the vast majority of accidents happening so close to shore, our solution is proving invaluable to the world of marine rescue.”
SafeTrx is used by national maritime and sea rescue authorities in Denmark, The Netherlands, Norway, Germany, South Africa and Australia, to name but a few.
8 West Consulting’s products are growing rapidly in global markets. For example, SafeTrx Ranger is an intelligent and scalable marine sensor platform for life boats, workboats and marine service vessels that comes equipped with a CAN bus interface, WiFi hotspot, integrated ZigBee, BLE and USB for networking.
8 West Consulting is one of the exhibitors at the Our Ocean Wealth conference in Cork City Hall.
For a useful insight into how SafeTrx works, below is a link to the Freedom Paddle, a surfski race from Cape Town around Robben Island in April 2018.
SafeTrx delivered the tracking software for flotilla event race management, which helped the organisers of South Africa’s newest surfski race ensure the safety of all participants.
Former naval officers Conor O’Sullivan and Ronan Carey formed ARQ Asset Solutions when they saw that Irish companies were losing around €1bn annually through poor management of lubricants in their machinery.
“Enterprise Ireland rowed in and helped us figure out how to put our unique knowledge to good use,” said Conor O’Sullivan. “We developed an industrial IoT [Internet of Things] solution that allows companies to remotely monitor their valuable oil assets.
“It’s like an early warning system giving data on the oil in components like the gear box in a wind turbine. Our monitor can predict when you need to change the oil.
“People were changing oil too frequently. Our tool allows them to reduce their maintenance by 20-30%, both planned and unplanned.”
The IoT market is currently around $3bn globally, and is set to grow to $12bn by 2023. The value of the UK’s offshore wind turbine market alone is set to double from £24bn to £48 (€27bn to €54bn) by 2030.
Up to 70% of machinery failures are due to poor lubrication practices. ARQ’s founders believe there is a global market for their solution.
ARQ is one of a handful of companies getting fast-tracked marine technology mentoring with Proto Atlantic. Enjoying rapid growth within the energy sector, ARQ’s solution is also being used in pharma and other manufacturing settings.
ARQ is one of the exhibitors at the Our Ocean Wealth conference in Cork City Hall. ARQ was chosen by LEO South Cork for the National Enterprise Awards.
Harry Lorton has been appointed as president of the Institute of Directors.
A member of the Institute since 1995, he serves as chairman of Bank of Ireland Mortgage Bank, Independent Trustee Company, Johnson & Perrott Motor Group and of the Supervisory Committee at Royal Liver Assurance Sub-Fund, part of the Royal London Group.
He worked for 30 years in banking in Ireland, notably 11 years as CEO of Cork and Limerick Savings Bank, TSB Bank and Permanent TSB.
After his retirement from Permanent TSB in 2002, he began what he calls a “second career” as a non-executive director and chairman in a variety of companies.
Esther Lynch has been elected as deputy general secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC).
A former Irish Congress of Trade Unions official, she was elected to the role by delegates, including the general secretaries and presidents, of some 90 national trade union organisations from 38 European countries.
ICTU general secretary, Patricia King, congratulated Ms Lynch following the recent vote at the ETUC Congress in Vienna, Austria.
Ms King said: “The level of support that Esther’s candidacy received reflects the very high regard in which she is held across Europe.”
Ms Lynch takes up her four-year post in Brussels immediately.
Sanita Johnson has been appointed as as business development manager for corporate services with on-site services provider Sodexo.
She will drive sales of the corporate services in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
She joined from Enterprise Ireland, where she was the HPSU start department manager, having held several business development and strategic mentoring roles since 1996.
She has more than 20 years’ experience in working with indigenous companies across multiple sectors and holds a BBS and MBS from Liverpool John Moores University, UK. Sodexo’s clients include Ervia, Gas Networks Ireland, Bord Bia, Central Bank and PayPal.
Mark Kenny has been appointed as senior designer to the creative design team of Fuzion Communications.
He brings a rich skillset and vast experience across the tech sector, the arts, media and television, working with clients such as Amazon, Disney Interactive, Microsoft, Vision Independent Productions and Irish Technology Leadership Group.
In Cork, he has worked in branding with Cork Heritage Pubs, and Urban Design & Print.
His experience covers entertainment, advertising, packaging, event promotion, storefront and signage design, photography, brand development and interior graphics.
Since joining Fuzion, he has worked with clients including Enterprise Ireland, LEOs and James Whelan Butchers.
Paul Mahon has been appointed as technology consultant at technology services provider Singlepoint with responsibility for delivering increased customer business value from existing and new tech assets via consulting, delivery and solutioning expertise.
He was previously care systems and capability manager and business transformation and solutions manager at Vodafone.
He has more than 20 years experience in telecoms across a variety of roles and functions.
He holds an MBS specialising in the management of information systems from UCD Graduate School of Business and a Diploma in Applied Project Management (PMP).
Eileen Fitzpatrick has been appointed as non-executive director of Bank of Ireland.
She has extensive public sector and capital markets experience, and has held senior roles in both the asset management and stockbroking industries.
She has been head of NewERA at the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) since November 2011, and announced her departure from the Agency in January.
She joined the NTMA in 2006 and held several senior roles.
She was previously CEO at AIB Investment Managers from 2000-06.
From 1987 to 2000 she held senior investment and stockbroking roles, including with AIB Investment Managers and Goodbody Stockbrokers.