Many countries now recognise the need for mitigation of climate change induced by human activities and have incorporated renewable energy resources within their energy policy. There are extensive resources of renewable energy within the marine environment and increasing interest in extracting energy from locations with either large tidal range, rapid flow with and without wave interaction, or large wave resources. However, the ecological implications of altering the hydrodynamics of the marine environment are poorly understood. Ecological data for areas targeted for marine renewable developments are often limited, not least because of the considerable challenges to sampling in high energy environments. In order to predict the scale and nature of ecological implications there is a need for greater understanding of the distribution and extent of the renewable energy resource and in turn, of how marine renewable energy installations (MREIs) may alter energy in the environment. Regional ecological implications of a MREI need to be considered against the greater and global ecological threat of climate change. Finally, it is recommended that the identification of species and biotopes susceptible to the removal of hydrokinetic energy could be a suitable strategy for understanding how a MREI may alter flow conditions.