As the marine renewable energy industry evolves, in parallel with an increase in the quantity of available data and improvements in validated numerical simulations, it is occasionally appropriate to re-assess the wave and tidal resource of a region. This is particularly true for Scotland - a leading nation that the international community monitors for developments in the marine renewable energy industry, and which has witnessed much progress in the sector over the last decade. With 7 leased wave and 17 leased tidal sites, Scotland is well poised to generate significant levels of electricity from its abundant natural marine resources. In this state-of-the-art review of Scotland's wave and tidal resource, we examine the theoretical and technical resource, and provide an overview of commercial progress. We also discuss issues that affect future development of the marine energy seascape in Scotland, applicable to other regions of the world, including the potential for developing lower energy sites, and grid connectivity.
Coastal and Offshore Energy
Marine renewable energy developments (MREDs) are rapidly expanding in size and number as society strives to maintain electricity generation whilst simultaneously reducing climate-change linked CO2 emissions. MREDs are part of an ongoing large-scale modification of coastal waters that also includes activities such as commercial fishing, shipping, aggregate extraction, aquaculture, dredging, spoil-dumping and oil and gas exploitation. It is increasingly accepted that developments, of any kind, should only proceed if they are ecologically sustainable and will not reduce current or future delivery of ecosystem services. The benthos underpins crucial marine ecosystem services yet, in relation to MREDs, is currently poorly monitored: current monitoring programmes are extensive and costly yet provide little useful data in relation to ecosystem-scale-related changes, a situation called ‘data-rich, information-poor’ (DRIP). MRED –benthic interactions may cause changes that are of a sufficient scale to change ecosystem services provision, particularly in terms of fisheries and biodiversity and, via trophic linkages, change the distribution of fish, birds and mammals. The production of DRIPy data should be eliminated and the resources used instead to address relevant questions that are logically bounded in time and space. Efforts should target identifying metrics of change that can be linked to ecosystem function or service provision, particularly where those metrics show strongly non-linear effects in relation to the stressor. Future monitoring should also be designed to contribute towards predictive ecosystem models and be sufficiently robust and understandable to facilitate transparent, auditable and timely decision-making.
The immense energy potential of the oceans is being increasingly recognized the world over, at the same time the integrity of marine ecosystems is challenged by pressure from multiple human activities. For good reasons environmental licensing procedures are precautionary and new industries must declare their detrimental impacts and provide mitigation measures. New ocean energy industries target renewable energy sources thus, on a grand scale, partly mitigating climate change. However, on-site environmental impacts are yet to be established. In this review we compare ocean energy industries with a wide range of conventional, better understood, human activities and outline environmental risks and research priorities. Results show that ocean energy systems are thought to incur many pressures, some familiar and others with yet unknown effects. Particular uncertainties regard ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) and large fast-moving turbines. Ocean energy industries should not be considered in isolation because the significance of environmental impacts depend on the full spectra of human activities in each area. Marine spatial planning provides a platform for holistic assessments and may facilitate the establishment of ocean energy industries, as long as risk-related uncertainties are reduced.
The deployment of Hybrid Offshore Wind and Wave Energy Systems (HOWiWaES) towards the simultaneous exploitation of the corresponding offshore renewable energy sources, may efficiently address the common challenge of the offshore wind and the wave energy sector to reduce their costs, with multiple additional benefits. A prerequisite at an early stage of the realization of a HOWiWaES project is the determination of marine areas suitable for the deployment of HOWiWaES. In the present paper, a methodological framework for identifying the most appropriate marine areas in Greece towards the deployment/siting of HOWiWaES is developed and presented. The framework is based on the combined use of multi-criteria decision making methods and Geographical Information Systems (GIS). At the first stage of the analysis, the unsuitable for the deployment of HOWiWaES marine areas are identified through the development of a GIS database that produces thematic maps representing exclusion criteria related to utilization restrictions as well as to economic, technical and social constraints. Then, at the second stage of the analysis, eligible marine areas not satisfying exclusion criteria are evaluated and ranked using the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP), based on evaluation criteria related to economic, technical and socio-political factors. The AHP's implementation is supported by the developed GIS database, eliminating significantly the subjectivity in judgments. The results of the paper illustrate the potential for deploying HOWiWaES in Greece, especially in the offshore areas of Crete and in a lengthwise zone extended from North-central to central Aegean.
Growing levels of energy consumption and concern over the environmental consequences of energy production are leading to an increased investment in renewable energy generation. Despite an important relationship between energy production, consumption and well-being, little attempt has been made to provide a holistic assessment of how renewable energy sectors can contribute to different aspects of human well-being. This paper develops an impact evaluation framework that can be used to capture societal-level impacts of change on primarily objective well-being and applies it to the case of the UK offshore wind industry. As such, the framework goes beyond the traditional view of economic, social and environmental impact assessment and evaluation capturing wider aspects of societal costs and benefits as well as sustainable development. The framework proves a useful tool for organising the available evidence and suggests a broadly positive impact of the UK offshore wind industry. While further testing and refinement of the framework is needed, it could be easily transferred for well-being assessment of other industries and interventions.
The expansion of offshore wind farms (OWFs) is likely to increase conflict with other marine users as different sectors compete for space. There may also be positive interactions, as the artificial reef effects from energy infrastructure have the potential to sustain and enhance fishing opportunities. Recreational sea angling is an important sector within the UK but the experiences and opinions of UK sea anglers with respect to OWFs have not been documented. To address this, an online survey was undertaken with recreational anglers around the UK (n=199). Respondents represented a range of socio-demographic and angling characteristics, although male, more frequent and older fishers as well as club members were over-represented compared to a 2012 national survey. One quarter of the respondents had fished around the perimeter of or within an OWF, most on multiple occasions, and 73% of those who had not expressed a willingness to do so in future. Anglers reported both positive and negative effects on catch success when fishing near or within OWFs compared to their experiences of the same site prior to OWF development. Outcomes for individual species were also mixed. Anglers recognised the potential artificial reef effects of OWFs and their role as a “safe haven”, particularly due to the exclusion of commercial fishers. Negative perceptions included restricted access, harm to marine wildlife, and visual impact. There is little evidence that OWFs will have a significant economic impact on recreational fishing, as most anglers are unlikely to change their behaviour in response to future developments.
This paper presents a multi-criteria selection approach for offshore wind sites assessment. The proposed site selection framework takes into consideration the electricity network’s operating security aspects, economic investment, operation costs and capacity performances relative to each potential site. The selection decision is made through Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP), with an inherited flexibility that aims to allow end users to adjust the expected benefits accordingly to their respective and global priorities. The proposed site selection framework is implemented as an interactive case study for three Baltic States in the 2020 time horizon, based on real data and exhaustive power network models, taking into consideration the foreseen upgrades and network reinforcements. For each country the optimal offshore wind sites are assessed under multiple weight contribution scenarios, reflecting the characteristics of market design, regulatory aspects or renewable integration targets.
For Marine Renewable Energy (MRE) to become a viable alternative energy source, it must encompass large arrays of devices. Arrays may include 1000s of devices. The associated foundations or anchors may encounter a range of seafloor sediment types and geotechnical properties. Wave and tidal energy convertors induce unique loads on foundations and anchors that are different from other seafloor engineering applications. Thus, there is a need for a combination of advanced site analysis and performance assessment. Geotechnical engineering plays the vital role of ensuring that foundation and anchor systems perform successfully for MRE devices. Our paper reviews the unique frequency and magnitude of loading regimes experienced by MRE arrays. We examine potential loading conditions on the foundation-anchor systems. Loading regimes include environmental and system loads from single devices or arrays of devices. We present specific load examples from field data. We explore the applicable geotechnical approaches to address these conditions, including constitutive models that may or may not adequately capture the response of the seafloor sediments to the MRE loads. Partially to fully dynamic constitutive model formulations may be necessary to properly model sediment-fluid hydromechanical response to MRE loading. Spacing of full MRE arrays and spatial variability in sediment properties may require multiple foundation types.
The exploration of deep-sea mineral resources on continental margins is increasing worldwide. In the SW Atlantic, Campos Basin has been Brazil's main deep-sea area for oil and gas extraction since the 1980′s, with currently over 11,000 km2 of leased blocks below 200 m depth. The historical record of exploration and the lack of a basin-wide management for the offshore industry in the SW Atlantic threaten the biodiversity and ecological function of vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems. This study identified habitats of biological interest on the Campos Basin and proposes relevant areas for conservation (EBSAs) that could be included in the first deep-sea Marine Protected Area (MPA) network in the South Atlantic. A total of 42 benthic habitats were mapped including cold-water coral reefs, submarine canyons, soft sediment slope and a seamount. Those habitats fill conservation criteria to be proposed as EBSAs along Campos Basin and could support a MPA network with a 5.5% overlap (2330 km2) to current leased blocks. If implemented, the MPA network would cover 31% of the Campos Basin and offer 31–100% protection of EBSAs with minimal interference on industry. This study is the first to identify EBSAs in a deep-sea basin of major economic importance in Brazil's EEZ and their conservation would also protect areas at two biogeographic provinces in the South Atlantic. Furthermore, the methods demonstrated here could be widely applied to other offshore oil and gas areas that lack environmental management measures at early stages of bidding rounds or during the process of environmental licensing.
The use of rigorous methodologies to assess environmental, social and health impacts of specific interventions is crucial to disentangle the various components of environmental questions and to inform public opinion. The power of systematic maps relies on the capacity to summarise and organise the areas or relationships most studied, and to highlight key gaps in the evidence base. The recent Italian technical referendum (2016) – a public consultation inviting people to express their opinion by voting to change the rules on the length of licence duration and the decommissioning of offshore oil and gas platform drilling licences – inspired the creation of a systematic map of evidence to scope and quantify the effects of off-shore extraction platforms on Mediterranean marine ecosystems. The map was aimed as a useful model to standardise a “minimal informational threshold”, which can inform public opinion at the beginning of any public consultation. Produced by synthesising scientific information, the map represents a reliable layer for any future sustainable strategy in the Mediterranean basin by: (i) providing a summary of the effects of marine gas and oil platforms on the Mediterranean marine ecosystem, (ii) describing the best known affected components on which the biggest monitoring efforts have been focused, and (iii) strengthening the science-policy nexus by offering a credible, salient and legitimate knowledge baseline to both public opinion and decision-makers. The map exercise highlights the knowledge gaps that need filling and taking into due consideration before future transnational and cross-border monitoring and management plans and activities can be addressed.