After several years of maturation of wave energy concepts and technologies some developers have finally reached a pre-mature phase. Over the course of this progress some concern has arisen regarding possible environmental impacts, however due to the limited number of devices tested in real sea conditions the few environmental studies available seldom resort to field data. Preliminary studies of wave energy converters (WECs) indicate that few and low environmental impacts are expected. However, with the forthcoming large scale deployments of WECs it will become possible to monitor the positive and negative environmental effects in more detail.
Developers and promoters have demonstrated particular concern regarding the possible effects of underwater noise emitted by WECs. Noise generation has a potential impact on marine fauna, for that reason it is necessary to identify the species present within the vicinity of the deployment area.
This paper includes a brief review of existing environmental studies/documents of individual devices and projections of future wave farms regarding underwater noise as an environmental descriptor. It also addresses present uncertainties and knowledge gaps associated with this subject.