Any hard structure submerged in the sea will eventually host a community of marine organisms growing on and associated with its surface. This marine growth, or biofouling, is comprised of a variety of species depending on the location, depth and configuration of the structure. Marine growth on renewable energy devices can have consequences for structural integrity, hydrodynamic efficiency, and survivability of devices, and may also encourage the establishment and growth of non-native or invasive species.
In 2015, the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult commissioned a feasibility study to evaluate options for mapping and monitoring marine growth on renewable energy structures. This feasibility study comprised three parts:
1. Industry consultation – to provide insight into industry issues associated with biofouling, to which 15 responses were received
2. Feasibility of Predictive Mapping of Marine Growth – a study reviewing key biofouling species and their implications for renewable energy structures and the feasibility of developing a predictive mapping tool for marine growth
3. Feasibility of Sensor Development for Monitoring Marine Growth – a study reviewing promising technology options for the development of a marine growth sensor, designed to provide information about marine growth on a structure in real-time.
This report presents the outcomes of the third element of this project, sensor development for monitoring marine growth.