Since the beginning of the 2000’, the French government ambition was to have an offshore wind production formed 40% of the renewable electricity in 2030. Three calls tenders of Offshore Wind Farms (OWFs) construction have been pronounced since 2011. However, no offshore wind farm (OWF) had been constructed at the end of 2017 due to long administrative procedures and numerous appeals in justice, at French and European levels. Nevertheless, several studies have been enterprised to identify the environmental conditions and ecosystem functioning in selected sites before OWF implantations. However, these studies are generally focused on the conservation of some species or groups of species, and there is no holistic study on the effects of the construction and operation of OWF on an ecosystem taken as a whole. In 2017, a complete and integrated view of the ecosystem of two future OWF sites of the eastern English Channel (Courseulles-sur-Mer and Dieppe-Le Tréport) was developed to model the marine ecosystems before OWF implementation and to simulate reef effects due to new spatial occupation of maritime territory. Results contribute to a better knowledge of the impacts of the OWFs on the functioning of marine ecosystems. They also allow to define recommendations for environmental managers and industry in terms of monitoring the effects of marine renewable energy (MRE), not only locally but also on other sites, at national and European levels.
Coastal and Offshore Energy
This article explores stakeholder views on tidal energy in the state of Washington. Through compiling and analyzing three qualitative datasets, we take a triangulated approach to better understand stakeholders’ positive and negative views, concerns, and needs regarding tidal energy and if and how these are represented through print and online news sources. We analyzed comments submitted during the permitting process for the Admiralty Inlet Pilot Tidal Project, comments included as part of a tidal energy mail survey sent to Washington residents, and media articles about tidal energy. We found four types of concern themes within negative views towards tidal energy: environmental, social, economic, and technical. Shared concerns between organized stakeholder groups and resident stakeholders about the project and tidal energy in general included concerns related to the harm to marine life, the loss of native fishing rights, expensiveness of development, increased electricity costs, and the engineering challenge of developing tidal energy. Concerns unique to stakeholder groups for the project included threats from scaling up, issues related to public safety and security, damage to cables, inability to stop the turbine, harm to terrestrial flora, and sediment disruption and contamination. Positive views were commonly associated with the need to address environmental issues, technological innovation and leadership, desire to have a diverse energy portfolio, and economic benefits.
The work shows that there are several promising new developments in harvesting marine energy and it examines some of these technologies and discusses their advantages and some of the obstacles that are impeding the commercialization of these emerging technologies. This includes wave energy harvesting, tidal energy harvesting, ocean thermal energy and the utilisation of salinity gradients for electricity generation.
The work emphasises the fact that these new emerging technologies are currently at the developing stages and has a long way to go before successful commercialization and wide adoption become the norm.
The work stresses the need for more research and developmental work to address several of the technical issues that need to be addressed including devices designs, their installation and maintenance, the infrastructure which includes the grid and power transmission as well as losses, their use in arrays, and their longevity.
This work underlines the lack of reliable studies on the long term impacts of these technologies on both the marine environment and nearby habitations and highlights the need for proper environmental and social impact assessments of these technologies.
The work concludes that combination of technical, policy and economic advances will enable marine energy technologies to play a large role in combination with currently adopted non-pollution renewable energy resources to provide the world population with their energy needs and contribute to affecting significant reduction in the use of non-renewable and other polluting fuels worldwide.
Increasing global energy demands have led to the ongoing intensification of hydrocarbon extraction from marine areas. Hydrocarbon extractive activities pose threats to native marine biodiversity, such as noise, light, and chemical pollution, physical changes to the sea floor, invasive species, and greenhouse gas emissions. Here, we assessed at a global scale the spatial overlap between offshore hydrocarbon activities and marine biodiversity (>25,000 species, nine major ecosystems, and marine protected areas), and quantify the changes over time. We discovered that two‐thirds of global offshore hydrocarbon activities occur in areas within the top 10% for species richness, range rarity, and proportional range rarity values globally. Thus, while hydrocarbon activities are undertaken in less than one percent of the ocean's area, they overlap with approximately 85% of all assessed species. Of conservation concern, 4% of species with the largest proportion of their range overlapping hydrocarbon activities are range restricted, potentially increasing their vulnerability to localized threats such as oil spills. While hydrocarbon activities have extended to greater depths since the mid‐1990s, we found that the largest overlap is with coastal ecosystems, particularly estuaries, saltmarshes, and mangroves. Furthermore, in most countries where offshore hydrocarbon exploration licensing blocks have been delineated, they do not overlap with marine protected areas (MPAs). Although this is positive in principle, many countries have far more licensing block areas than protected areas, and in some instances, MPA coverage is minimal. These findings suggest the need for marine spatial prioritisation to help limit future spatial overlap between marine conservation priorities and hydrocarbon activities. Such prioritisation can be informed by the spatial and quantitative baseline information provided here. In increasingly shared seascapes, prioritising management actions that set both conservation and development targets could help minimize further declines of biodiversity and environmental changes at a global scale.
Climate change is poised to exacerbate coastal erosion. Recent research has presented a novel strategy to tackle this issue: dual wave farms, i.e., arrays of wave energy converters with the dual function of carbon-free energy generation and coastal erosion mitigation. However, the implications of sea level rise – another consequence of climate change – for the effectiveness of wave farms as coastal defence elements against shoreline erosion have not been studied so far. The objective of this work is to investigate how the coastal defence performance of a dual wave farm is affected by sea level rise through a case study (Playa Granada, southern Iberian Peninsula). To this end, a spectral wave propagation model, a longshore sediment transport formulation and a one-line model are combined to obtain the final subaerial beach areas for three sea level rise scenarios: the present situation, an optimistic and a pessimistic projection. These scenarios were modelled with and without the wave farm to assess its effects. We find that the dual wave farm reduces erosion and promotes accretion regardless of the sea level rise scenario considered. In the case of westerly storms, the dual wave farm is particularly effective: erosion is transformed into accretion. In general, and importantly, sea level rise strengthens the effectiveness of the dual wave farm as a coastal protection mechanism. This fact enhances the competitiveness of wave farms as coastal defence elements.
Demand for renewable energy is increasing steadily and regulated by national and international policies. Offshore wind energy sector has been clearly the fastest in its development among other options, and development of new wind farms requires large ocean space. Therefore, there is a need of efficient spatial planning process, including the site selection constrained by technical (wind resource, coastal distance, seafloor) and environmental (impacts) factors and competence of uses. We present a novel approach, using Bayesian Belief Networks (BBN), for an integrated spatially explicit site feasibility identification for offshore wind farms. Our objectives are to: (i) develop a spatially explicit model that integrates the technical, economic, environmental and social dimensions; (ii) operationalize the BBN model; (iii) implement the model at local (Basque Country) and regional (North East Atlantic and Western Mediterranean), and (iv) develop and analyse future scenarios for wind farm installation in a local case study. Results demonstrated a total of 1% (23 km2) of moderate feasibility areas in local scaled analysis, compared to 4% of (21,600 km2) very high, and 5% (30,000 km2) of high feasibility in larger scale analysis. The main challenges were data availability and discretization when trying to expand the model from local to regional level. The use of BBN models to determine the feasibility of offshore wind farm areas has been demonstrated adequate and possible, both at local and regional scales, allowing managers to take management decisions regarding marine spatial planning when including different activities, environmental problems and technological constraints.
The objective of this study is to analyse, from a legal point of view, the influence of the transposition of Marine Spatial Planning Directive into both Spanish and Portuguese domestic laws on the development of marine renewable energies in both countries. This article concludes that the Portuguese legal system is more favourable for the development of marine renewable energies than the Spanish legal regime, since the former establishes a more flexible planning system, sets criteria for the prioritisation of marine uses, incorporates trade-off mechanisms, introduces an electronic single-window system and regulates a pilot zone. These measures can help streamline licensing processes, avoid and resolve conflicts with other sea users, and adapt planning instruments to the rapid development of new marine renewable technologies. However, both legal regimes lack specific legal mechanisms aimed at offering effective protection of the marine environment against negative effects arising from the installation of such devices. Similarly, there is a lack of coordination between maritime spatial planning instruments and land planning instruments, and between the Central Government and the autonomous regions. This may hinder the installation of marine renewable energies. This study has implications in relation to the EU integrated marine policy aimed at achieving a balance between blue growth and the conservation of the marine environment, as well as an inter-administrative coordination improvement in decision-making.
The offshore renewable energy sector has challenging requirements related to the physical simulation of the ocean environment for the purpose of evaluating energy generating technologies. In this paper the demands of the wave and tidal energy sectors are considered, with measurement and characterisation of the environment explored and replication of these conditions described. This review examines the process of advanced ocean environment replication from the sea to the tank, and rather than an exhaustive overview of all approaches it follows the rationale behind projects led, or strongly connected to, the late Professor Ian Bryden. This gives an element of commonality to the motivations behind marine data acquisition programmes and the facilities constructed to take advantage of the resulting datasets and findings. This review presents a decade of flagship research, conducted in the United Kingdom, at the interfaces between physical oceanography, engineering simulation tools and industrial applications in the area of offshore renewable energy. Wave and tidal datasets are presented, with particular emphasis on the novel tidal measurement techniques developed for tidal energy characterisation in the Fall of Warness, Orkney, UK. Non-parametric wave spectra characterisation methodologies are applied to the European Marine Energy Centre's (EMEC) Billia Croo wave test site, giving complex and highly realistic site-specific directional inputs for simulation of wave energy sites and converters. Finally, the processes of recreating the resulting wave, tidal, and combined wave-current conditions in the FloWave Ocean Energy Research Facility are presented. The common motivations across measurement, characterisation, and test tank are discussed with conclusions drawn on the strengths, gaps and challenges associated with detailed site replication.
Quality of environmental impact assessments (EIAs) has been criticized, in part due to a lack of accounting in these tools for differing spatial and temporal scales inherent in ecological data. In the United States, leases of outer continental shelf blocks for offshore wind projects and their construction and operation plans require EIAs in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 and the 1978 Council on Environmental QualityRegulations for Implementing the Procedural Provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act. This study evaluated consideration of spatiotemporal scales of stressors, receptors (specifically cetaceans), and effects in eight federal offshore wind energy EIAs against 26 criteria extracted from federal regulations. The criteria analysis determined that EIAs do not consistently or comprehensively address spatiotemporal scales with respect to federal requirements. Deficiencies in addressing spatiotemporal scales may result from imprecise regulations, intent to simplify encyclopedic documents, or lack of data resulting in incomplete assessments, inappropriate mitigation actions, and projects delays. Recommendations to improve compliance with federal regulations include making federal guidance binding, focusing on non-trivial impacts of species, tiering information, and incorporating outcomes of marine spatial planning.
Offshore wind is gaining momentum in the United States as a viable source for meeting domestic energy needs. Although offshore wind farms have been developed in Europe and Asia, the Block Island Wind Farm (BIWF) is the first offshore wind farm built in North America. To improve marine resource management, it is critical to understand the impacts of the wind farm on marine resource users in context. Little is known about the impacts of offshore wind farms on marine resource users in the United States. This study investigates recreational and commercial fishers' perceptions of the impacts of the BIWF on the local marine ecosystem. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 25 fishers, mostly based out of Block Island or Point Judith, Rhode Island (US), in the summer and fall of 2017. During the interviews, fishers were asked about their perceptions of changes in the marine ecology of the wind farm area during and after the offshore wind turbines were constructed, and how their activities in the area have changed since the wind farm was installed. Results indicate that there were perceived impacts of the BIWF on the local ecosystem and the behavior of the marine resource users. For some recreational fishers, the wind farm functioned as a destination or target and served as an artificial reef for spearfishing. For some commercial fishers, the increase in recreational fishing due to the establishment of the BIWF crowded out commercial fishers in these areas. As the offshore wind farm industry expands within US waters, findings from this study and others like it can provide valuable insights on the potential impacts of these wind farms on marine resource users.