Aquamarine Power Limited (Aquamarine Power) proposes to install the second generation of the Oyster technology in the near shore area of the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) Wave Test Site, at Billia Croo off the west coast of mainland Orkney. This environmental monitoring programme document sets out the operational monitoring strategy of Oyster 2 (second generation wave energy device), for assessment of potential environmental impacts.
At present, Aquamarine Power is focussing on the installation of a single Oyster 2 device, including its foundation piles, and installing foundation piles for a further two devices. Installation will take place in summer 2011. It is then intended that a further 2 devices will be installed over two years in 2012 and 2013 (and be subject to a separate consent application submitted in 2011). Oyster 2 is to be deployed in 10 – 15 m water depth and produces energy through the oscillating action of the waves against the ‘flap’, driving hydraulic pistons which pump fresh water back onshore through a hydro-electric plant. The electricity generation of the first Oyster 2 device will be up to 800 kW.
Installation of Oyster 2a (first device) and all foundation piles is proposed during a two month period between June and August 2011; this timing is however, weather dependent. It is anticipated that the device will operate for up to 20 years with little major interference. Small periods of maintenance will occur every 6 months, with more extensive maintenance every 5 years, likely to include the removal of one or more component parts of the device (for example, removable hydraulic modules).
Specialist environmental studies, as identified during Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) scoping, were completed to support permit and consent applications for the offshore aspects of the Oyster 2 development. This work included consultation with relevant stakeholders. The key impacts investigated were seabed impacts, marine wildlife impacts (such as displacement and collision), and underwater noise. These issues form the basis of the proposed environmental monitoring strategy.
The details of specific protocols for monitoring of potential seabed, marine wildlife and underwater noise impacts has been developed into an environmental monitoring programme (EMP), outlined within this document. The monitoring strategy and protocol details will be developed further throughout the preparation of the EMP; in concurrence with on-going regulatory, stakeholder and advisory consultation. This EMP document provides an overview of the proposed environmental strategy and monitoring; supported by a series of separate detailed protocols that will be submitted to Marine Scotland for approval eight weeks prior to the date the monitoring activity is due to commence, unless agreed otherwise with Marine Scotland.