Principle Investigator Contact Information
Name: Dr. Anne Marie Power
Address: School of Natural Sciences / Zoology, Ryan Institute, University of Galway, Ireland
The Tidal GES project – a transition to affordable and clean energy that can achieve ‘Good Environmental Status’ in coastal and marine waters' – is focusing on solutions to secure transition to affordable and clean energy that also enhances the health and resilience of communities, wildlife and environment. It brings together a multi-disciplinary team of researchers and a wide variety of stakeholders to address both technical and non-technical aspects of tidal energy deployment. This includes an economic appraisal of tidal energy and the investigation of societal attitudes towards it. It also considers local communities and stakeholder engagement with tidal energy developers, local authorities and local communities of potential commercial tidal energy sites and how they can work together to decarbonise the local economy, while also working together to deliver improved habitat and landscape conservation management. Another strand of the work focuses on developing systems to quantify the interactions of tidal energy devices with wildlife. The project consists of five work packages. WP 1 looks at the impact of climate change on tidal energy sites. WP 2 involves development of a monitoring system for wildlife in the vicinity of tidal energy devices. WP 3 looks at public engagement in tidal energy and conservation management and socioeconomic assessment of potential tidal energy sites. WP 4 is an assessment of the structural life of the tidal turbine blades.
WP 2 is the most relevant to OES-Environmental. Dr. Anne Marie Power is the WP 2 Leader. This work package will suggest a monitoring approach for wildlife in the vicinity of tidal energy devices, the protection of which is a key to acceptance of tidal energy devices by local communities. This will primarily be carried out via listening (hydrophones) and watching (video cameras, possibly including acoustic ‘cameras’) for pelagic fauna (cetaceans, fish, seabirds and invertebrates such as cephalopods), which may interact with tidal energy devices. We are aware of no ‘off the shelf’ solutions to monitor wildlife around tidal energy devices as this depends on the design of the tidal energy devices, e.g. whether it floats or is mounted on a pedestal, etc. Wherever possible, the monitoring system will use-off-the shelf sub-components, however, ingenuity will be required to achieve footage of suitable quality that is optimised for available battery life on each monitoring system. A related task will explore AI software to reduce analysis time of footage. Monitoring tools will be tested in the field in Ireland (e.g. on rope-cultured mussel farms) and may be trialled at tidal energy sites abroad, if logistically feasible.
University of Galway
Location of Research
The researchers are based in the University of Galway. Currently field research is planned for Thomond Pier Limerick, and it is likely that there will also be research around Strangford Lough, in Northern Ireland. It is also envisaged that research will take place at other sites, around Ireland, yet to be determined.
The overall project aims are:
- Use global ocean data and high-resolution coastal models to better understand the potential impacts of climate change on tidal energy resources and the implications of any such impacts for the design and performance of tidal energy devices.
- Develop a monitoring approach for wildlife in the vicinity of tidal energy devices and assess the impact of tidal energy devices on benthic species. Sub objectives, include:
- Suggest a monitoring approach for pelagic species on the vicinity of tidal energy devices.
- Examine the impacts of tidal energy devices on migratory fish.
- Capture the socio-economic impact of tidal energy developments on key stakeholders and provide an effective structure for enhancing participation by key stakeholders (including local communities and marine users), improving their influence on decisions, while reducing potential for conflict.
- Develop a new methodology for predicting remaining fatigue life and residual strength of tidal turbine blades.
To date work in WP2 has focused on mapping overlap in zoned tidal sites and wildlife. The project is working closely with GKinetic who are hoping to deploy several devices in the water early next year. A Before and After Control Impact (BACI) study has been created for quantifying the impact of these devices on fish migration behaviour. Finally, a literature review is underway into the influence of tidal energy on wildlife.
The mapping exercise has shown that there is an overlap between the areas where there is a large tidal energy resource and the location of marine life. The mapping also allows this to be broken down based on particular species.