OES-Environmental distributes metadata forms (questionnaires) to solicit information from researchers around the world who are exploring the environmental effects of marine renewable energy. This page provides a description and contact information related to the research. Content is updated on an annual basis.

Monitoring the condition of Marine Renewable Energy Devices through underwater Acoustic Emissions: Case study of a Wave Energy Converter in Falmouth Bay, UK

Study Status: 
Princple Investigator Contact Information: 

Name: Joanne Garrett

Address: University of Exeter, Cornwall Campus, UK

Project Description: 

This article investigates the use of AE to remotely monitor an actual WEC device, in this case Fred. Olsen's “Bolt-2 Lifesaver” during its two-year deployment in Falmouth Bay, UK. The underwater sound levels were recorded at this site for a two week baseline period, a five-day installation period and intermittent operational and non-operational activity from March 2012 - November 2013. The recordings were also analysed for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) indicator third octave bands of 63-Hz and 125-Hz for shipping noise.

Funding Source: 

This work is funded primarily by the European Social Fund (ESF). Additional funding for research activities was from the Peninsula Research Institute for Marine Renewable Energy (PRIMaRE), MERiFIC (funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Interreg IV-A programme), the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and Fred Olsen Renewables.

Location of Research: 

FaBTest at Falmouth Bay, UK

Project Aims: 

To characterize the underwater sound profile of the Fred Olsen Lifesaver wave energy converter in comparison to other underwater noise and its environmental impact.

Project Progress: 


Key Findings: 

The median and modal sound levels in Falmouth Bay were found to be loudest in the frequency range 100 Hz - 1 kHz and affected by local shipping activity. During installation activity, the sound levels were louder at all frequencies recorded as compared to similar periods with no installation activity, with a mean difference of 6.9 dB Hz-1 in the range 10 Hz to 48 kHz. Long term marine renewable energy construction projects may affect the MSFD indicator bands. There was little overall difference in the average sound levels for the operational and non-operational periods as the median PSD levels were louder by an average of 0.04 dB Hz-1 during the operational activity as compared to the non-operational activity. The results of this study indicate that the effect of a single WEC device on the overall sound levels in Falmouth Bay is relatively low considering the substantial presence of shipping in the area. However, in the immediate vicinity of the device (<200 m), the sound produced was found to be of significance to marine animals.

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