The pace of development for marine energy projects worldwide continues to be hindered by uncertainty surrounding potential environmental effects of wave and tidal devices and the balance of system. In response to this continued uncertainty, member nations of the Ocean Energy Systems (OES) developed a collaborative project – Annex IV – to increase collection and sharing of knowledge, research collaborations around high priority environmental interactions, and relevancy of the information to permitting (consenting) processes. The culmination of Annex IV Phase 1 is a searchable database of current literature and reports on environmental effects of marine energy development, and an analysis of three key interactions of devices and the marine environment.
The initial phase of Annex IV concluded in 2013 with an examination of three priority environmental concerns: 1) interaction of aquatic animals with turbine blades; 2) effects of underwater noise from tidal and wave devices on marine animals; and 3) effects of energy removal on physical systems. Each priority interaction (or “case study”) examined published literature, compliance and investigative reports, and information and metadata gathered directly from device developers and researchers. This information was used to: reach preliminary conclusions on the importance of each interaction to the environment; assess the level of certainty surrounding each interaction; and highlight key research gaps that hinder a deeper understanding of the interaction. This paper will present the findings of each case study and discuss the importance that each of the three priority interactions continue to play in permitting wave and tidal devices.