The 11th European Wave and Tidal Energy Conference (EWTEC) was held in Nantes, France, September 6-11, 2015. As the premier academic conference in wave and tidal energy, EWTEC has primarily focused on technology engineering and modeling. Annex IV and Ocean Energy Systems (OES) partnered with the 11th EWTEC to expand upon the environmental focus of the conference, and increase participation by scientists and engineers examining environmental effects of marine renewable energy devices. This strategy resulted in a EWTEC high of 25 papers in 6 dedicated environmental sessions, as well as 3 environmental effects posters presented, over the course of the conference.
Annex IV is a collaboration of 13 nations that have an interest in marine renewable energy. These nations have come together under the leadership of the US, to compile and disseminate information on environmental effects of marine energy. Annex IV also hosts a variety of engagement and outreach activities including webinars, expert forums, and workshops. More information is available at http://tethys.pnnl.gov/about-annex-iv.
A major area of environmental research examined monitoring for marine animals around marine renewable energy devices and in proposed development areas, as represented by 6 research papers. Malinka et al., Benjamins, and Bromley et al. discussed the use of passive and active acoustic instruments and other approaches to monitor marine mammals in UK tidal energy sites. Lake et al. simulated habitats for marine mammals in the presence of marine energy devices. Staines et al. presented hydroacoustic results to better understand fish abundance and their vertical distribution near a tidal device in the US, and Viehman demonstrated the use of temporal analysis techniques to optimize hydroacoustic surveys of fish near MRE devices or in high energy areas. Displacement of wildlife due to device operation is also a concern that was addressed in a paper by Long et al.
Several research papers presented results of numerical and computational modeling studies that provide insight into potential environmental effects of removing energy from a body of water or disrupting natural processes such as nearshore wave action and sediment transport processes, including papers by: Fairley et al.; Ramirez-Mendoza et al.; Roberts and Jones; Bell; Brown and Neill; Bischof et al.
Other papers presented in the six environmental sessions at EWTEC ranged over a wide variety of topics and included acoustic characterization of tidal turbines (Polagye et al.; Cruz et al; and Schmitt et al.; Roberts et al.); numerical modeling and tissue analysis to predict the risk to a marine mammal from tidal blade strike (Grear and Motley); the impact of electromagnetic field emissions on marine animals (Dhanak et al.); and linking siting and permitting of MRE devices with engineering and deployment strategies (Copping et al.).
Annex IV countries hosted a workshop during EWTEC to provide an overview and update on the 2016 State of the Science Report (in preparation) and to solicit feedback on the topics covered in the report. The workshop included flash presentations by six of the report authors and a discussion with the participants. More information and a recording of the workshop can be found on Tethys.
The 6 environmental sessions and related Annex IV activities were very well attended by EWTEC participants, and brought many additional environmental researchers to the conference.. More information on EWTEC and the environmental track sponsored by Annex IV and OES can be found on Tethys.