Annex IV distributes metadata forms (questionnaires) to solicit information from researchers around the world who are exploring the environmental effects of marine renewable energy. This page provides a description and contact information related to the research. Content is updated on an annual basis.

Impacts of TEC and WEC Array Operation on Sediment Dynamics

Research Study Annex IV

Title: Impacts of TEC and WEC Array Operation on Sediment Dynamics
Start Date:
August 01, 2008
Research End Date:
January 01, 2015
Technology Type:
Info Updated:
March 03, 2016
Study Status: 
Princple Investigator Contact Information: 

Name: Simon Neill

Address: Menai Bridge, UK, LL59 5AB

Phone: +44(0)1248 383938


Project Description: 

Initially, work involved modelling changes to the sediment dynamics of a large estuarine system (the Bristol Channel).  Research progressed into incorporating the impacts of energy extraction by marine renewables into state-of-the-art three-dimensional tidal models (eg. Neill et al. 2011).  Most recently, in collaboration with Gregorio Iglesias (University of Santiago de Compostela), the work has involved modelling nearshore impacts of wave energy converters.

Funding Source: 

UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Low Carbon Research Institute (LCRI), High Performance Computing (HPC).

Location of Research: 

Irish Sea, Bristol Channel, Alderney Race (English Channel)

Project Aims: 

This work set out to determine the environmental impact of exploiting the tidal stream resource.

Project Progress: 

The project is now complete and several papers have been published.  A £40M grant from High Performance Computing considerably increased modelling capability, allowing the inclusion of feedbacks between the evolving bathymetry and the hydrodynamics over long (several decades) timescales.

Key Findings: 

TEC arrays sited in regions of strong tidal asymmetry lead to a much larger impact on sediment dynamics than TEC arrays located in regions of tidal symmetry.


TEC arrays located in the vicinity of headlands can lead to a significant impact on the maintenance of headland sandbanks.  Since such sandbanks have an important role in coastal processes (eg. they exchange sediment with neighbouring beaches and provide a natural form of coastal protection from the impact of storm waves), TEC arrays located near headlands could increase the risk of coastal flooding.


WEC arrays can lead to enhanced nearshore sandbar formation.  Since reduced water depth over sandbars enhances depth-induced wave breaking, WEC array operation could provide enhanced coastal protection from storm waves.


Numerical simulations demonstrate that a full-scale (250MW) tidal stream turbine farm placed in a large estuary (the Bristol Channel) could have serious implications on large-scale sediment dynamics, with the effects measurable up to 50km from the site of energy extraction.  However, by strategically locating the farm with reference to the natural tidal asymmetry of the system, this impact can be minimised.

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