The Study Group on the Environmental Impacts of Wave and Tidal Energy (Chair: Michael Bell, UK) held its third and final meeting in Cork, Ireland, 19–21 March 2013. The meeting was attended by four participants from Ireland, and the UK (England, Scotland) and contributions by correspondence were made by participants, from Spain and the UK (Scotland).
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 2013 continued the work of the previous meetings, 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 socio-economic interactions. Status reports were updated for five countries and summary tables were updated and extended to 80 wave and tidal energy developments or test deployments and 121 research projects. SGWTE 2013 also considered the application of Integrated Ecosystem Approaches to management of marine renewable energy activities in the marine environment. Potential interactions of marine renewables with Ecosystem Services were identified, and their relevance to GES descriptors under the MSFD was assessed. Canada’s development of risk analysis and the ecosystem approach (as detailed in the recent CRR No. 317) was reviewed and application of risk-based approaches to management were compared between Scotland and Canada.
This was the third and final meeting of SGWTE, but it is clear that there is an ongoing and increasing need for ICES to develop science in relation to marine renewable energy. SGWTE 2013 developed a proposal for a new Working Group on Marine Renewable Energy (WGMRE), to be established with multi-annual Terms of Reference running from 2014. A key role for WGMRE will be to work in close collaboration with topic-based science Working Groups with the purpose of synthesising their outputs in relation to marine renewable energy for application to planning, consenting and regulatory processes for tidal (both in-stream and barrage), wave and offshore wind energy. WGMRE will also continue the work of SGWTE to facilitate access to up-to-date information on the state of development of the marine renewable energy sector and on associated research activities.