The Offshore Renewables Joint industry Programme Ocean Energy (ORJIP Ocean Energy) is a UK-wide collaborative programme of environmental research with the aim of reducing consenting risks for wave, tidal stream and tidal range projects. The programme brings together industry, regulatory and advisory bodies, academia, and other key stakeholders to identify and address critical evidence gaps for the principal Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) consenting risks for the wave and tidal sectors.
The ORJIP Ocean Energy Forward Look provides a list of outline project plans for research projects to address key EIA/HRA issues based around a series of prioritised consenting issues for the wave and tidal stream sectors. These consenting issues were identified and agreed in a gap analysis process carried out by industry, regulators, and other key stakeholders.
This Wave and Tidal Stream Critical Evidence Needs document has been aligned with the State of the Science 2020 report, which is produced under the Ocean Energy Systems (OES) Environmental initiative of 15 countries. These countries collaborate to evaluate scientific evidence on the potential environmental effects of marine renewable energy development, to assist with permitting, and allow increased and responsible deployment of devices. The State of the Science 2020 comprehensively reviews the scientific evidence derived from multiple field, laboratory, and modelling studies conducted around the world. It presents the best available scientific evidence on the potential environmental effects of marine renewable energy development.
This document complements and builds on the Forward Look and the growing body of evidence, knowledge and experience of wave and tidal stream consenting both in the UK and globally. It sets out the critical outstanding evidence needs for wave and tidal stream energy in the UK, grouped into ten strategic topics (see Section 3). The ten topics provide an overall perspective on research priorities and their importance for effective decision-making, by linking research needs to the practical application of outputs, to enable:
- Sectoral planning that is underpinned by best available science and evidence-based impact assessments (environmental, climate change, social and economic assessments).
- Pre-application development activity (including project planning and design, and baseline characterisation), that identifies and minimises negative impacts (to de-risk consenting) and maximises the benefits of development.
- Consenting processes and decisions that are well-informed, evidence-based, proportionate and effective.
- Post-consent activity (including environmental monitoring and management) that is realistic, effective and appropriately targeted.
The critical evidence needs are organised into ten strategic topics, as follows:
- Methods and instruments to measure mobile species occupancy and behaviour in high energy environments and around marine energy devices.
- Near-field interactions between mobile species and tidal stream turbines.
- Occupancy patterns, fine-scale distribution and behaviour of mobile species in wave and tidal stream habitats.
- Far-field responses of mobile species to wave and tidal stream devices and arrays.
- Subsea acoustic profiles of wave and tidal stream sites and technologies.
- Tools for assessing and managing risk to mobile species populations for large-scale wave and tidal stream development.
- Tools for assessing effects of large-scale wave and tidal stream developments on physical processes.
- Tools for assessing social and economic impacts of wave and tidal stream developments.
- Tools for assessing climate change impacts of wave and tidal stream developments.
- Tools and guidance for managing risk and uncertainty during the preparation of project environmental monitoring plans (PEMPs)