The OES-Environmental 2020 State of the Science Report: Environmental Effects of Marine Renewable Energy Development Around the World builds on and serves as an update and a complement to the 2013 Final Report for Phase 1 of OES-Environmental and the 2016 State of the Science Report. Its content reflects the most current and pertinent published information about interactions of marine renewable energy (MRE) devices and associated infrastructure with the animals and habitats that make up the marine environment. It has been developed and reviewed by over 60 international experts and scientists from around the world as part of an ongoing effort supported by the OES collaboration that operates within the International Technology Cooperation Framework of the International Energy Agency (IEA).
The 2020 State of the Science Report consists of 14 chapters which can be downloaded as a whole or individually. Download Chapter 2: Marine Renewable Energy: Environmental Effects and Monitoring Strategies here.
MRE is an emerging industry that has had a limited number of small deployments and no full-scale commercial deployment to date. As a result, the paucity of baseline and post-installation data continues to drive a level of uncertainty among regulators and stakeholders that increases the perception of risk for many potential interactions between MRE devices and marine animals, habitats, and the environment. This lack of data continues to confound our ability to differentiate between actual and perceived risks. Ultimately, the risk an MRE device may pose to marine animals, habitats, and the environment is a function of the attributes of the MRE device (static or dynamic), type of device (wave, tidal, or riverine), and the spatial scale of a particular installation (single device or array). Risk is defined as the interaction of the probability or likelihood of a deleterious outcome with the consequences if such an outcome occurs.
Over the past decade, our understanding of potential environmental effects across multiple scales has significantly increased as a result of our focus on two general categories of monitoring questions: (1) scientific questions that focus on the actions and interactions of organisms as they encounter devices in their natural habitat, and (2) questions related to the context and environment in which MRE devices are placed. These questions are being used to inform the design of robust monitoring programs, as well as mitigation measures if such measures are needed.
As the MRE industry advances and increased monitoring and data collection inform critical questions, the body of knowledge surrounding the potential environmental effects of MRE development will continue to grow, informing our perception of risk. It is possible that as more definitive data are collected, we may be able to retire or set a lower priority for certain risks. The evidence base for risk retirement will be informed by our growing knowledge about the nature of specific stressor-receptor interactions, thereby helping to determine which interactions have sufficient evidence to retire those risks, and where significant uncertainties remain. However, risk to marine animals, habitats, and the environment may remain and continue to present challenges to consenting commercial-scale development.
The Short Science Summary for the chapter is available here.