The European Atlantic Ocean offers great opportunities for the development of projects for renewable energy extraction, and the Marine Renewable Energy sector is developing different technologies for energy converters, including Wave Energy Converters. Besides, the European Commission is adopting measures and politics to increase the installed capacity of ocean energy. However, there are still uncertainties on the potential environmental effects of wave energy converters, which led regulators and stakeholders to perceive their operation as a risky activity.
To overcome the non-technological barriers that could hinder the development of marine renewable energies, and improve the knowledge on the impacts on the seafloor integrity (among others), SafeWAVE project set an Environmental Research Demonstration Strategy based on the collection, processing, modelling, analysis and sharing of environmental data collected in Aguçadoura (Portugal), Armintza (Spain) and Le Croisic (France) representing different types of technology, locations and project scales.
Video recordings were carried out, using Remotely Operated Vehicles, to identify the environmental impacts of the moorings on the seafloor morphology. That information was completed by side scan sonar campaigns using an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle.
The video recordings were useful also to assess the attraction effect of the moorings to epibenthic invertebrates and fishes, whereas the side scan sonar provided quantitative information on the area affected by physical alteration (<1% of the total area occupied by the devices at Armintza and Le Croisic).