Marine energy with minimum environmental impact

Marine energy with minimum environmental impact

Funding of more than £1 million has been awarded to a project that will help to determine the limits to tidal and wave energy extraction before potential environmental and ecological impacts occur.

The three-year EcoWatt2050 project is coordinated by the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland and funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

It will use computer models developed in an earlier EPSRC-funded TeraWatt project to simulate the effects of extracting energy using wave and tidal renewable energy devices on the marine environment.

Led by Heriot Watt University, in partnership with Swansea University, Universities of Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Strathclyde, the Highlands and Islands, the National Oceanography Centre and Marine Scotland Science, EcoWatt2050 will provide a vital tool for addressing questions posed by the licensing authorities and decision makers about the potential siting of large scale marine renewable energy arrays.

Associate Professor Harshinie Karunarathna in the College of Engineering at Swansea University, who will be leading the work on impacts of marine renewable energy extraction on sea bed sediment environment, said,

"The project will shed light on how large scale extraction of wave and tidal energy will affect coastal and marine sediment dynamics, which may have considerable impacts on the physical and ecological marine environment.

This will enable us to understand the extent to which marine energy can be harnessed without damaging the environment."

Professor Jon Side, of Heriot Watt University’s Orkney Campus, who leads the EcoWatt2050 project, said:

"Scotland's seas offer great potential for wave and tidal energy production, and Scotland is at the forefront of the development of marine renewable technologies and ocean energy exploitation.  

It's important that in the move to renewable energy we take care to avoid developments which might harm our marine eco-systems.”

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Picture:  the flow structure evolving downstream of a tidal stream turbine, generating renewable energy from the sea.  Entered for the Swansea University Research as Art competition by Rami Malki, Marine Energy Research Group, Swansea University.