As the wave and tidal industry plans for initial commercial deployments, significant uncertainties remain about the risks to marine animals and habitats from wave and tidal devices; this uncertainty continues to slow and complicate siting and permitting (consenting) processes. Advancement of the industry can be simplified if the level of uncertainty is reduced, allowing regulators and the marine energy industry to focus monitoring on a small set of interactions for which risk remains uncertain, or where ongoing observation becomes a component of mitigation for high risk levels (with low risk uncertainty).
Early deployments of tidal and wave devices have yielded information about interactions of animals with devices and the potential effects of development on marine habitats. Similarly, laboratory studies and the creation of numerical models have provided insight into potential effects. These studies have allowed us to bound certain risks to the marine environment, help focus monitoring and research studies on the highest priority interactions, and diminish concerns about low-risk interactions. The interactions pursued in this report are those for which a high degree of uncertainly remains and those that are of greatest concern to regulators and stakeholders. Other risks have not been addressed, including those that may be of lesser concern (for example, risk from anti-fouling paints on marine energy devices) or those for which information collected for other industries are pertinent (such as the effect of anchors on the seabed).
Under the sponsorship of Annex IV, a 1-day workshop was held in conjunction with the EIMR (Environmental Impacts of Marine Renewables) conference in Stornoway, United Kingdom (UK), on April 29 2014. Support for the workshop was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the EIMR conference, and was organized by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) with assistance from the DOE Wind and Water Power Technologies Office and the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center.