The marine renewable energy (MRE) industry is no longer brand new, but is not yet established commercially. Researchers have been examining potential environmental risks of MRE development for about a decade now, but there are still limited data from monitoring around wave and in-stream tidal devices to definitively determine what interactions between devices and marine animals/habitats can be discounted, which continue to need further study, and which constitute actual risk to the environment.
Through a comprehensive review effort, we have investigated overall risks to the marine environment from single MRE devices, and the initiation of larger arrays. Annex IV, an initiative under the Ocean Energy Systems, is tasked with producing a report on the State of the Science for Environmental Effects of MRE development. The final report will be published in April 2016. The highlights and significant findings of that study are featured here, including a closer look at two interactions that continue to concern regulators and stakeholders: advances in our understanding of the potential for collision of marine animals with tidal turbines, and what level of risk is posed by EMF emissions from MRE power cables and moving machine parts.