Project title: Optimising Seabed Mapping Products and Geotechnical Characterisation Techniques for Offshore Renewable Energy in Ireland (SCORE)
Researcher: Dr Mark Coughlan
The Climate Action Plan (CAP) 2019 targets at least 3.5 GW of offshore wind energy for Ireland by 2030 with the Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan (OREDP) identifying a long-term potential of 70 GW of offshore renewable energy (ORE) within 100 km of the Irish coastline. The common challenge in developing ORE is the variable geological structure and dynamics of the seabed. There is a clear need for detailed geological mapping and geotechnical assessments to support the siting of ORE, either through direct developer support or the establishment of offshore development zonation. My research focuses on answering the following central research question: What are the key seabed characteristics affecting potential offshore wind deployment in Ireland? The INFOMAR programme delivers key geophysical and geological datasets that are of value to the offshore renewable energy industry, a key sector which is rapidly growing in Ireland in response to the Climate Action Plan. However, there is a paucity of geotechnical data regarding Ireland’s offshore deposits and number of geological and engineering challenges exist, including shallow gas, scour, heterogenous glacial units and mobile bedforms which could hamper the siting and development of such infrastructure. Augmenting the INFOMAR data with predictive tools, geotechnical measurements and repeat survey data and is an effective way of developing more robust ground models at an early project stage that allow a holistic view of an offshore zone or site to be determined. The SCORE project aims to undertake stakeholder engagement and extensive offshore surveys to address these challenges and deliver robust tools and datasets for use in front-end engineering.