Renewable energy

Across the globe there is commitment to finding alternative sources of energy to reduce our dependency on the finite resources of fossil fuels. The marine environment remains the least developed region on Earth and holds great potential for the development of sustainable energy sources such as offshore wind and tidal power. However, the benefits of such new technologies need to be weighed against and the costs and risks to the marine environment.

Currently there is limited evidence available as to the local and regional impact of offshore and tidal installations and we are working to develop methods and techniques to assess these changes.

We are investigating new approaches to monitor marine life and assess the socio-impacts of renewable energy structures and have used the mathematical model FVCOM to assess and forecast the impacts of these structures on scales from a single turbine to an entire shelf sea.

Using our model we have demonstrated that although the effects of a single turbine are small, cumulatively the impacts of multiple installations can disrupt the flow of water, potentially altering marine ecosystems, and even the heights of tides. This can disrupt the benefits we derive from a healthy marine environment where even small changes to the tides can have damaging consequences for coastal habitats and flooding risks, particularly in conjunction with the changes already seen as a result of climate change.

Making a difference

Our work will inform future policy development and marine spatial planning when considering new sustainable energy generation sites so that environmental implications of new developments can be quantified and considered alongside economic concerns.

Further information

Projects

Flow and Benthic Ecology 4D (FLOWBEC)
Completed

Flow and Benthic Ecology 4D (FLOWBEC)

Contact: Dr Ricardo Torres

The FLOWBEC project aims to investigate the potential impacts that tidal and wave energy harnessing devices may have on the marine environment...

MyCOAST

MyCOAST

Contact: Dr Ricardo Torres

MyCOAST will develop risk management tools and a Coordination Atlantic Coastal Operational Observatory to improve coastal monitoring and...

Ecosystem service mapping in the Severn estuary and inner Bristol Channel
Completed

Ecosystem service mapping in the Severn Estuary and inner Bristol Channel

Contact: Dr Tara Hooper

The Severn Estuary and Bristol Channel provide a diverse range of benefits that underpin our economy and wellbeing, from fisheries to ports and...

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Related publications

  1. Cox, SL; Witt, MJ; Embling, CB; Godley, BJ; Hosegood, PJ; Miller, PI; Votier, SC; Ingram, SN. 2017 Temporal patterns in habitat use by small cetaceans at an oceanographically dynamic marine renewables test site in the Celtic Sea [in special issue: European Marine Megafauna] Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography, 141. 178-190. 10.1016/j.dsr2.2016.07.001
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  2. Queiros, AM; Huebert, KB; Keyl, F; Fernandes, JA; Stolte, W; Maar, M; Kay, S; Jones, MC; Hamon, KG; Hendriksen, G; Vermard, Y; Marchal, P; Teal, LR; Somerfield, PJ; Austen, MC; Barange, M; Sell, AF; Allen, JI; Peck, MA. 2016 Solutions for ecosystem-level protection of ocean systems under climate change. Global Change Biology, 22. 3927-3936. 10.1111/gcb.13423
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  3. Cazenave, P; Torres, R; Allen, JI. 2016 Unstructured grid modelling of offshore wind farm impacts on seasonally stratified shelf seas. Progress in Oceanography. /10.1016/j.pocean.2016.04.004
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  4. Pittman, SJ; Winship, AJ; Poti, M; Kinlan, BP; Leirness, JB; Baird, RW; Barlow, J; Becker, EA; Forney, KA; Hill, MC; Miller, PI; Mobley, J; Oleson, EM. 2016 Chapter 6: Marine Mammals - Cetaceans. In: Costa, BM; Kendall, MS, (eds.) Marine Biogeographic Assessment of the Main Hawaiian Islands. Silver Spring, MD, USA, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 227-265, 359pp. (OCS Study BOEM 2016-035 and NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS 214, OCS St).
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  5. Fleming, LE; McDonough, N; Austen, MC; Mee, L; Moore, MN; Hess, P; Depledge, MH; White, M; Philippart, K; Bradbrook, P; Smalley, A. 2014 Oceans and Human Health: A rising tide of challenges and opportunities for Europe. Marine Environmental Research, 99. 16-19. 10.1016/j.marenvres.2014.05.010
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