Marine energy is poised to become an important renewable energy contributor for the U.S., but widespread deployment of the technology hinges on its benefits outweighing the potential ecological impacts. One stressor marine energy installations introduce is light, which is known to cause varying responses among wildlife and has not yet been addressed as an environmental concern. This review discusses requirements and regulations for similar structures and how lighting design choices can be made to meet these requirements while minimizing environmental consequences. More practical guidance on implementing lighting for marine energy is needed, as well as updated guidelines to reflect technological and research advances. Known responses of wildlife to light are introduced in addition to how the responses of individuals may lead to ecosystem-level changes. The impact of light associated with marine energy installations can be reduced by following basic guidance provided herein, such as removing excess lighting, using lights with high directionality, and employing controls to reduce light levels. Continued research on animal responses to light, such as findings on minimum light levels for animal responses, alongside the development of highly-sensitivity spectral characterization capabilities can further inform lighting guidelines for deploying future open ocean marine energy devices.
This article is part of the Special Issue, "Technology and Methods for Environmental Monitoring of Marine Renewable Energy".