It is widely acknowledged that if non-wind marine energy generation devices (wave and tidal devices) can be successfully developed that they have the potential to make a significant contribution to the Kyoto Protocol renewable energy targets. It is clear that considerable effort has been invested in the engineering aspects of the development of coastal and offshore energy generation devices with minimal investment to consider the potential environmental impact of installing such devices. This manifests itself in the current position in the UK whereby a test centre, the EMEC facility on Orkney, has been consented through based on the findings of an Environmental Impact Assessment. The site consists of and is consented for the necessary infrastructure to test and evaluate prototype wave and tidal energy devices but does have consent for individual prototype devices that may be installed. Individual consents for each prototype device must be sought for the duration of installation. It is apparent that to satisfy this requirement for individual consents it will be necessary to both conduct generic research and derive knowledge from other sectors (principally the offshore wind and oil and gas industry) to fill current knowledge gaps. A second test centre in the south-west of England has also been proposed.
To address a number of these issues it is likely that generic research will be required. It will obviously be necessary to allow the installation of some prototype devices prior to and parallel with generic research in order to investigate any larger scale environmental impacts.
Areas requiring further work are:
- Create a direct link between physical modelling of devices and biological models or data sets.
- The impact on sea-mammals, birds and fish, in particular their interactions with devices.
- Pre, operational and post deployment environmental monitoring programmes with determined boundaries of acceptability, suitable parameters for monitoring, guidelines to be adopted by individual developers and appropriate funding streams for the instigation of such programmes during the testing phase of prototype devices. Monitoring should also make use of best available technology.
This report draws on the outputs from two workshops run by the DTI in the UK on 14 January 2005 and 16 March 2005; a workshop hosted by EMEC/UKERC entitled "Environmental Impacts and Monitoring of Marine Energy Conversion Devices" held on 14th September 2005 and the booklet Wave and Tidal Energy Devices, BWEA 2005 ISBN: 18700065410.
Non-Wind Renewable Energy Devices
Most wave and tidal devices are currently at the prototype development stage although a small number are now approaching sufficient levels of development where more advanced demonstrator projects can be deployed and tested. This section of the report provides a brief overview of some of the prototype technologies under development. It is not an exhaustive review of all devices but provides details for most of the technologies under development.