Proponents of marine renewable energy worldwide highlight that regulatory and consenting procedures are a significant barrier to the upscaling of infrastructure required to transform the energy generation sector. Uncertainties about the cumulative effects of marine renewable energy developments cause substantial delays during the consenting process, which are exacerbated by the lack of clarity about how to assess cumulative effects. These obstacles have contributed to perceptions that this essential emerging industry receives disproportionate scrutiny relative to established maritime activities. However, alongside legislated targets to reduce carbon emissions, there are legal obligations to protect, maintain and improve the condition of the marine environment. As the imperative to halt the decline in the condition of the environment increases, so expectations of cumulative impact assessments grow and the risk of consenting delays persists. To investigate how robust current cumulative impact assessment practise is, a novel evaluation framework was developed and applied to Environmental Statements of the world's largest offshore wind farms, currently in United Kingdom waters. The framework was designed to evaluate cumulative impact assessments relative to the information needs of decision-makers tasked with managing cumulative effects. We found that current practise does not meet those needs, that there is dissonance between science and practise, and problematic variability between assessments was observed. Straightforward recommendations for improved practise are provided, which if implemented may ease the perceived regulatory burden by clarifying practise. We also highlight additional steps that could enable project-led cumulative impact assessments to better support regional marine management. The results and recommendations will be of interest to countries worldwide where marine renewable energy is emerging alongside ecosystem-approach and marine spatial planning aspirations.
Coastal and Offshore Energy
At present, there is no specific legal basis for the development and utilisation of marine renewable energy, nor legal protection for the developers in China. The consequence is that the Chinese Government is unable to provide institutional support for the substantive development of marine renewable energy, resulting in slow development of China's marine energy industry. This paper provides an institutional framework for the establishment of relevant laws in China and legislative proposals in legal perspective, for the better development of marine renewable energy. The Chinese Government should optimise the administrative management system, strengthen financial regulation such as tax and emphasise sustainable development.
Marine tidal-stream renewable energy devices (MREDs) are beginning to move from demonstration to early commercial deployment. However, the ecological impacts which may result when large arrays of these devices are deployed are unknown. This uncertainty is placing a considerable burden on developers who must collect biological data through baseline and post-deployment monitoring programs under the Environmental Impact Assessment process. Regulators and other stakeholders are often particularly concerned about impacts on marine vertebrates (fish, seabirds and mammals) because many of these receptors are of high conservation and public concern. Unfortunately monitoring for most marine vertebrates is challenging and expensive, especially in the energetic waters where tidal-stream MREDs will be deployed. Surveys for marine vertebrates often have low statistical power and so are likely to fail to detect all but substantial changes in abundance. Furthermore, many marine vertebrate species have large geographical ranges so that even if local changes in abundance are detected, they cannot usually be related to the wider populations. Much of the monitoring currently being undertaken at tidal-stream MRED development sites is thus leading to a ‘data-rich but information-poor’ (DRIP) situation. Such an approach adds to development costs whilst contributing little to wider ecosystem-based understanding. In the present article we discuss the issues surrounding the impacts of tidal-stream MREDs on marine vertebrates and address the questions regulators, developers and other stakeholders need to consider when agreeing monitoring programs for these receptors.
The excessive combustion of fossil fuels for energy provision have altered natural planetary functions, resulting in adverse biophysical and societal implications. Such implications have prompted many governments globally to advocate for the adoption of renewable energy systems in order to reduce GHG emissions. While renewable energy technologies such as solar and biogases have been thoroughly researched and deployed, tidal current turbines (TCTs) that harness kinetic energy from the lateral movement of the tides are a comparatively emerging renewable energy technology, and thus has received relatively less attention with respect to their potential to supplement the renewable energy transition. This paper examines the physics behind tidal movements and cycles, and the technological operation of TCTs. Environmental impacts and economic barriers are analyzed. Best practices of MSP from world leading nations are examined, along with current deploy-andmonitor-consenting regimes of TCT test facilities. An optimal TCT design is suggested based on a synthesis of information from proceeding sections. Finally, an analysis of the implementation of TCTs in Canada, China, and Norway is presented, the results of which demonstrate that harnessing the accessible and sustainably extractable resource of each nation can result in an aggregate installed capacity of 9076 MW through the deployment of 7564 TCTs at a cost of $5,740,964,430, thereby creating 14,467 jobs. This would produce 29,829,711 MW h/yr of electricity sold at approximately 22 cents/kWh, eliminating a total of 14,914,855,258 kg of CO2e, approximately 0.1%. of the projected global electricity demand for 2016.
The objective of this paper is to present a method that qualifies the degree of visibility of an offshore wind farm from an observer located along the coast. In many cases, the deployment of an offshore wind farm leads to public opposition. This entails the need for the development of appropriate methods that might present in the most intelligible way the impacts of an offshore wind farm. Amongst many factors to take into account, the visual impact of such farms is surely a factor to take into account. We introduce a visual operator that integrates several parameters that mainly depend on the distance of the wind farm to the coast. We apply a measure that evaluates the horizon surface impact modulated by the number of distinguishable turbines and an aesthetic index based on turbine alignments. The whole method is implemented on top of Geographical Information System (GIS) and provides a decision-aid mechanism oriented to decision-makers. The whole approach is experimented in the context of a wind farm in North West France.
National-scale polls demonstrate high levels of public support for developing renewable energy while local opposition has led to delays and cancelations of renewable energy projects around the world. What makes for robust public engagement processes to reject or site renewable energy projects? A literature review reveals numerous considerations, with complexity that impedes their application by practitioners. In this study, we conducted interviews and document analysis to assess the extent to which design principles from the analytic-deliberative process literature arose during public engagement on three New England islands adjacent to proposed offshore wind farms. In our study sites—amongst the array of criteria in the literature—good public engagement boiled down to two key themes: enabling bidirectional deliberative learning and providing community benefit. Decision processes perceived as effective occurred when (1) participants, including experts and local stakeholders, learned from each other while reconciling technical expertise with citizen values; and (2) outcomes included the provision of collaboratively negotiated community benefits. Our findings highlight that community benefits are not the same as benefits to groups of individuals. Attending to these key themes may improve the quality of interactions among communities, government authorities and developers when deciding if and where to site renewable energy infrastructure.
Tidal energy is a renewable energy source that could be used to help mitigate climate change. Tidal energy technology is in the early stages of development and views towards this technology and energy source are not well understood. Through a representative mail survey of Washington State residents, we assessed attitudes and behaviors related to tidal energy, perceived benefits and risks, and climate change beliefs. Higher levels of perceived benefits and climate change beliefs were associated with increased acceptability of and support for tidal energy whereas greater perceived risks were associated with decreased acceptability and support (acceptability being an attitudinal construct, support a behavioral construct). Coastal residents reported higher levels of acceptability and support than non-coastal residents. Pulling from innovation theory, we show that levels of support depended upon the development lifecycle stage of the technology. Support declined once the project moved into the water from the lab, however, grid-connected pilot projects were more likely to be supported than those without grid-connection. Policies developed to encourage the development of tidal energy may be more accepted and supported if they include incentives for pilot phases with grid-connection.
Puget Sound in Washington State (WA) has significant tidal energy resources, but the industry is at a nascent stage of development. At this stage, the availability of research and development (R&D) funding plays a critical role in the success or failure of renewable energy schemes. However, information about public interest in developing marine renewable energy technology, including tidal energy technology, in WA and the U.S. has been limited. Responses to a dichotomous choice referendum question on a mail survey sent to a representative sample of WA households were used to estimate residents' Willingness to Pay (WTP) for tidal energy R&D. Public preferences for policies to support tidal energy R&D were also assessed. WA households are WTP between $29M and $127M annually for tidal energy R&D, indicating public preference for an increase in government spending on tidal energy R&D over current levels. Public perceptions of potential social, environmental, and economic risks and benefits of developing tidal energy emerged as highly significant predictors of WTP.
Aiming towards good practice in the planning and approval of offshore wind farms suggestions are provided for the amendment of environmental impact assessment (EIA), an effective marine spatial planning and the establishment of marine compensation measure. The investigation is focused on the situation in Germany as a frontrunner in ecological research on offshore wind energy. After 10 years of research in Germany, it is timely to offer a synopsis of the results especially regarding the successful investigations of mitigation measures. The results are based on published data collected in Germany over the last 10 years, as well as international research. The outcomes of the research were validated by interviewing experts using the Delphi method.
Key findings for good practice in impact assessment, mitigation and compensation:
1. EIAs should focus on decision-relevant subjects of protection (i.e. specific bird species and harbour porpoises).
2. There is a strong necessity for thresholds for the approval process.
3. Exclusion of OWFs in hotspots of sensitive species.
4. Application of state-of-the-art mitigation measures particularly against underwater noise to avoid damages of the hearing of porpoises.
5. The introduction of marine compensation measures is strongly suggested.
Society's dependence on fossil fuels to meet energy demands has resulted in an enormous release of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions into the atmosphere, thereby perpetuating global climate change. The consequences of climate change have prompted progressive governments such as British Columbia to establish legislative GHG emission reductions targets, which have lead to energy conscience municipalities within the province voluntarily committing to helping achieve such targets. Best practices examined from European municipalities share a common theme of renewable energy adoption and municipally-owned utilities. An emerging renewable energy technology are tidal current turbines (TCTs), which function to extract kinetic energy from the lateral movement of the tides in areas with considerable tidal velocities. This paper examines the history, physics, operational parameters, and plausible environmental impacts of TCTs in order to make a case for their sustainable implementation. The feasibility of the municipalities of North Pender Island, South Pender Island, and Saturna of the Southern Gulf Islands Region (SGIR), British Columbia, to help meet established GHG emissions reduction targets through the implementation of TCTs is analyzed, demonstrating that the deployment of 10 TCTs can produce 38,266,602 kWh/yr of electricity, mitigating 1138 t of CO2e, achieving 9.9% of the cumulative municipal GHG emissions mitigation targets. The paper then examines a case study in the Shetland Islands and Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters, Scotland, suggesting that jurisdictional regulatory powers over TCT installation and operation be devolved from the British Columbia government to the municipal governments of North Pender Island, South Pender Island, and Saturna, so that such communities can reap the benefits associated with a municipally-owned utility.