OES-Environmental distributes metadata forms (questionnaires) to solicit information from developers involved in environmental monitoring around marine renewable energy project sites around the world. This page provides project descriptions, baseline assessment, post-installation monitoring, and links to available data and reports. Content is updated on an annual basis.

Falmouth Bay Test Site (FaBTest)

Project Site OES-Environmental

Title: Falmouth Bay Test Site (FaBTest)
Start Date:
January 01, 2011
Technology Type:
Info Updated:
January 05, 2019
One of three test berths at FaBTest.
Project Status: 
Test site operational
Project Scale: 
Nursery test site with three berths
Installed Capacity: 
Non-grid connected test site

FaBTest is a 2.8km2 non grid connected, pre-consented nursery test site consisting of three test berths situated within Falmouth harbour.  It is located between three and five kilometres offshore in Falmouth Bay, approximately 4.5km from the entrance of Falmouth Harbour.  Due to the site’s pre-consented status, any device conforming to the design envelope may be deployed subject to scheduling and berth availability.  The device envelope allows for the following:


  • Substantially buoy-shaped device with a maximum diameter of 30m;
  • Substantially box-shaped device with a maximum dimensions of 30m x 30m or equivalent area
  • Substantially tubular-shaped device with a maximum length of 180m;
  • Floating platform type device with maximum dimensions of 35m x 35m or equivalent area; and subsystem connectors and umbilicals


Mooring systems are restricted to gravity and drag embedment anchors.  Guarded underwater turbines are also permitted and work towards achieving consent for a defined range of floating wind devices is underway.


Due to the pre-consented status, the application process for deployment on FaBTest is relatively straightforward.  Upon application the developer must provide evidence of engineering due diligence, environmental and other risk assessments, as well as deployment and decommissioning plans and evidence of required insurance and financial bonds.


The site itself offers water depths from 15m on the northern boundary to 50m on the eastern side of the southern boundary and seabed types of rock, gravel and sand.  The site is sheltered from prevailing south westerly wind and swell directions but is exposed to significant sea states from the east and south east.  This combination enables the high levels of accessibility to the site, but also provides significant testing conditions.  As a result FaBTest provides a step in the device development process, between tank testing and demonstration deployment.  It allows the testing of marine energy technologies (concepts or full scale devices), components, moorings and deployment procedures in a moderate wave climate.


The peak tide height range is around 6.0m while the peak tidal surface current is around 0.8m/s.  Wave and tidal climate modelling results can be found within FaBTest’s publication Appendix 9: Description of Site Characteristics and Eligible Test Installations.

Export Cables:

As the site is not grid connected, no export cable is present. All produced electricity is consumed on site by a dump load.


Vessel Spread:

Vessel type




Used to install dump load

Exact vessel used unknown


Falmouth Bay, Cornwall, United Kingdom


Between the four corners of:  

50.12222oN, 5oW

50.10556oN 5oW

50.88617oN 4.99556oW

50.89917oN 4.98333oW


Project Timeline: 

Test site is in operation and has been used by developers:

  • Bolt ‘Lifesaver’, Fred Olsen – installed 2012
  • Volta, Polygen Ltd –installed August 2015
  • Wavesub, Marine Power Systems –  installed 2018


It was announced that the Australian engineering company AMOG had received grant funding from the Marine-i program to test a 1:3 scale model of the company’s wave energy converter at the University of Exeter’s FaBTest site in summer 2019, following testing at the COAST laboratory at University of Plymouth and fabrication within the Cornwall Marine Enterprise Zone.


FaBTest is a key testing facility incorporated within “Marine Hub Cornwall”, a centre established in 2017 which supports marine technology businesses by offering resources drawn from Cornwall’s marine infrastructure including testing facilities and marine engineering expertise. Further information is available from: https://marinehubcornwall.co.uk/about.

Licensing Information: 

Falmouth Harbour Commissioners (FHC) hold a Marine Licence issued by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) which licenses certain MEC development test works according to set procedures and conditions.  Similarly, FHC has a seabed lease agreement with The Crown Estate (TCE) allowing the use of the seabed, again according to certain procedures and conditions.


Falmouth Harbour Commissioners (FHC) hold a Marine Licence issued by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) which licenses certain MEC development test works according to set procedures and conditions. Similarly, FHC has a seabed lease agreement with The Crown Estate (TCE) allowing the use of the seabed, again according to certain procedures and conditions.


The FaBTest site is administered by Falmouth Harbour Commissioners supported by a steering group with representatives from industry, academia, agencies and other stake holders.  The steering group is divided into two sub-groups, a core group further named as the ‘Regulatory Body’ and the industrial group.  The Regulatory Body has two permanent members, Falmouth Harbour Commissioners (FHC) and the University of Exeter (UoE).  The specific task of the Regulatory Body is to implement a diligence process to establish that each specific FaBTest installation proposal meets with the requirements according to the Marine Licence, FHC regulations, The Crown Estate (TCE) lease and good practice in accordance with stakeholder expectations.  In so doing the Regulatory Body advises and informs the decision of FHC to approve or decline an application for a berth at FaBTest.


This process includes reviews of the following documents.

•             Application form

•             General overview of the project

•             Engineering assessment & general arrangement drawing

•             Independent validation of the mooring design

•             Quality, Health, Safety and Environment (QHSE) management plan

•             Project execution plan

•             Decommissioning plan

•             Emergency response plan

•             Navigational risk assessment

•             Seabed habitat risk assessment

•             Environmental risk assessment

•             Proposal for noise monitoring

•             Description of any deviation from the Specification for Navigational Safety

•             Insurances

•             Security bonds


Based on the outcome of the assessment meeting, FHC will authorise or refuse a berthing application.  In the case of a refusal, details of any deficiencies will be reported back to the applicant in order to assist with a re-submission.

Key Environmental Issues: 

The main environmental issues in the test site concern the seabed habitat and disturbance from anchor installation and presence.  FaBTest encompasses five different seabed habitats.  Of these five, maerl beds and subtidal sand gravels are classified as ‘Habitats of Conservation Interest’.  However the maerl within FaBTest site is dead gravel rather than living maerl.  A sensitivity analysis of the impact was undertaken.

Falmouth Bay Test Site (FaBTest) is located in United Kingdom.

Baseline Assessment: Falmouth Bay Test Site (FaBTest)

General Description:

The following field surveys were undertaken (or commissioned by) the developer to inform baseline characterisation.

ReceptorStudy Description Design and Methods Results Status
  • Noise

Acoustic site characterization

Underwater noise was monitored using an Autonomous Multichannel Acoustic Recorder (AMAR) mounted on the seabed in 25m (above chart datum) water depth. The AMAR was shielded from trawling / scallop dredging activities by placement adjacent to a large special mark buoy.


  • Physical Environment

Current and wave characterization

An acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) was tethered to the buoy. The ADCP was set to continuously record current and wave activity. The ADCP was deployed to inform developers of the wave climate and to provide current and wave references for the noise data.


  • Benthos

Seabed imagery

The seabed condition were monitored using video imagery at sample points along two transect lines with sample points at 200m intervals. The positions of the sample points were recorded and replicated (within the bounds of GPS accuracy) during each sampling study.


  • Bathymetry
  • Multibeam Bathymetric Survey (MBS)
  • Shallow seabed penetration using a Sub-Bottom Profiling (SBP)
  • Side Scan Sonar (SSS)
  • Grab Samples
  • MBS High resolution bathymetry to ensonify entire area with particular emphasis on detection of natural upstands and debris.
  • Shallow seabed penetration using a SBP techniques to ascertain sediment thickness over bedrock within the survey extents.
  • High resolution SSS acquisition across the entire survey extents presented as geo referenced mosaic seabed imagery.
  • Collection of sediments samples over 12 pre-defined locations supplied by University of Exeter using mechanical grab techniques.
  • The MBS data shows in high resolution the change in bottom type throughout the site, from predominantly sand in the south east to rocky outcrops in the northern area.
  • SBP show areas of sand build up in the south of the survey area but very little accumulation around the rocky outcrops in the north.
  • SSS produced high & medium resolution geo-referenced SSS mosaic images (GeoTIFF), individual high resolution geo-referenced SSS records (GeoTIFF), raw SSS data files.
  • Image records of sediment grabs were taken.
Reports and Papers

Post-Installation Monitoring: Falmouth Bay Test Site (FaBTest)

General Description:

The table provides a list of the monitoring data carried out

ReceptorMonitoring Program Description Design and Methods Results Status
  • Benthos

Video monitoring

Baited Remote Underwater Video Systems (BRUVS) have been used since 2011 at the Falmouth Bay Test Site (FaBTest) to monitor the seabed environment pre- and post- deployment of wave energy devices.


  • Marine Mammals
  • Noise

Noise characterization

Passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) devices have been used at the site, including: a broadband sound recorder that records from 10 Hz to 32 (or 48) kHz and a C-POD that detects echolocation clicks of dolphins and porpoises. These PAM devices are deployed for around two months at a time and have been recording the local soundscape since March 2012.


Reports and Papers

The Marine-i programme is designed to enable innovation in the marine technology sector in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. The programme will run until December 2019 and aims to support at least 100 businesses, providing grant support to at least 66 businesses. Further information is available here.

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