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.
Coastal and Offshore Energy
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.
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.
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.