The Study Group on the Environmental Impacts of Wave and Tidal Energy (Chair: Michael Bell, UK) held its second meeting in Stromness, Orkney, UK, 4-6 May 2012. The meeting was attended by nine participants from Ireland, Spain, Sweden and the UK (England, Scotland and Wales) and contributions by correspondence were made by four participants, from France, Norway, Portugal and the UK (Wales).
The wave and tidal energy sector is a newcomer to the marine environment, but is developing rapidly. There is an urgent need for new science to understand the potential environmental and socio-economic interactions of wave and tidal energy developments and for this science be applied in policy, planning, consenting and regulatory processes. SGWTE 2012 continued the work of the previous meeting, collating information on the current state of development of the wave and tidal energy industry, in both testing and commercial deployment phases, on progress with leasing and consenting processes, and on research relating to environmental and socioeconomic interactions. Status reports were made for individual countries and summary tables were prepared for 53 wave and tidal energy developments or test deployments and 74 research projects. The aim is to compile a searchable database as a resource for scientists and regulators. SGWTE also reported on progress addressing research gaps identified in the previous meeting, and compiled a list of priority research areas under topics such as marine mammals, oceanography and fisheries interactions.
SGWTE is set to finish with a third meeting in 2013, but it is clear that there is an ongoing and increasing need for ICES to develop science in relation to marine renewable energy. SGWTE noted the existence of at least 17 other ICES expert groups with interests in marine energy. A new Working Group on Marine Energy is proposed for the purpose of coordinating the flow of science between topic-based science Working Groups (e.g. on seabirds, benthic ecology, fish ecology) and its application in planning, consenting and regulatory processes in relation to tidal (both in-stream and barrage), wave and offshore wind energy.