One of the most significant barriers to sustainable commercial scale development of the tidal energy sector is the level of uncertainty around the potential environmental risk posed by operating tidal turbines to protected marine wildlife. In order to reduce this uncertainty and better understand near-field behaviour of ecological receptors around operating devices, significant effort is being put into strategic monitoring and research projects around the world to gather data around the first single devices and arrays.
Monitoring data are needed to validate predictive models that describe the behaviour of key species around tidal turbines, in order to improve and refine input parameters for better estimates of collision risk and avoidance. However, monitoring near-field behaviour of ecological receptors around operational turbines and detecting any potential collision events requires a range of different technologies and processes. A variety of approaches have been implemented around the world to date and it is not clear what has been successful and where technical and procedural improvements are required going forward.
The principal aim of this project was to review environmental monitoring data collected around operational tidal energy projects to date, focusing on underwater video, in order to establish what data exist and how this data can be used to:
- Help ensure that experience to date with regards to the design and implementation of environmental monitoring programmes is captured and used to inform the development of proportionate future monitoring plans and to help reduce risk and costs wherever possible; and
- Improve our understanding of the potential effects of such developments on ecological receptors.