Conversion to renewable energy sources is a logical response to the increasing pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Ocean wave energy is the least developed renewable energy source, despite having the highest energy per unit area. While many hurdles remain in developing wave energy, assessing potential conflicts and evaluating tradeoffs with the existing uses is essential. Marine planning encompasses a broad array of activities that take place in and affect large marine ecosystems, making it an ideal tool for evaluating wave energy resource use conflicts. In this study, we used a spatially explicit, open source decision support tool to evaluate wave energy facility development off the U.S. west coast. We then used this output to identify potential conflicts between wave energy facilities and the existing marine uses in the context of marine planning. We found that regions with the highest wave energy potential were distant from major cities and that infrastructure limitations (cable landing sites) restrict integration with the existing power grids. We also identified multiple potential conflicts, including commercial fishing, shipping and transportation, and marine conservation areas. While wave energy generation facilities may be economically viable, we must also incorporate costs associated with conflicts that arise with the existing marine uses.
Coastal and Offshore Energy
The MED Programme is part of the EU Regional Policy and operates in the framework of the European Territorial Cooperation objective. In 2014, the MED Programme approved 14 thematic projects specifically targeted on maritime context with two of them addressing marine renewable energy and renewable energy in coastal areas: Bluene and Enercoast. These projects aim at contributing to the deployment of marine renewable energy technologies in the Mediterranean by gathering data, developing mapping activities, identifying policy gaps and addressing other obstacles hindering transnational cooperation potential. The objective of this article is to analyse the delivered results and outputs of these projects against the identified challenges and roadmap defined by the European Commission. Results were evaluated under a transferability and continuation approach applied to the period 2014–2020. This article also identifies and suggests ways in which transnational cooperation would enhance obtained results towards a higher implementation of marine renewable energy in the Mediterranean.
Marine energy technologies can contribute to meeting sustainability challenges, but they are still immature and dependent on public support. This paper employs the Technological Innovation Systems (TIS) framework to analyze the development and diffusion of Swedish marine energy up until 2014. While there were promising device developers, relevant industrial capabilities, and world-class research, the system suffered from weaknesses in several important innovation processes. Finally, the analysis identifies the lack of informed political direction as a critical blocking factor and highlights its connection to domestic market potential.
Globally, the deployment of offshore wind is expanding rapidly. An improved understanding of the economic, social and environmental impacts of this sector, and how they compare with those of other energy systems, is therefore necessary to support energy policy and planning decisions. The ecosystem services approach provides a more holistic perspective of socio-ecological systems than traditional environmental impact assessment. The approach also makes possible comparisons across disparate ecological communities because it considers the societal implications of ecological impacts rather than remaining focused on specific species or habitats. By reporting outcomes in societal terms, the approach also facilitates communication with decision makers and the evaluation of trade-offs. The impacts of offshore wind development on ecosystem services were assessed through a qualitative process of mapping the ecological and cultural parameters evaluated in 78 empirical studies onto the Common International Classification for Ecosystem Services (CICES) framework. The research demonstrates that a wide range of biophysical variables can be consistently mapped onto the CICES hierarchy, supporting development of the ecosystem service approach from a broad concept into an operational tool for impact assessment. However, to improve confidence in the outcomes, there remains a need for direct measurement of the impacts of offshore wind farms on ecosystem services and for standardised definitions of the assumptions made in linking ecological and cultural change to ecosystem service impacts. The process showed that offshore wind farms have mixed impacts across different ecosystem services, with negative effects on the seascape and the spread of non-native species, and positive effects on commercial fish and shellfish, potentially of most significance. The work also highlighted the need for a better understanding of long term and population level effects of offshore wind farms on species and habitats, and how these are placed in the context of other pressures on the marine environment.
Worldwide the renewable energy sector is expanding at sea to address increasing demands. Recently the race for space in heavily used areas such as the North Sea triggered the proposal of co-locating other activities such as aquaculture or fisheries with passive gears in offshore wind farms (OWFs). Our interdisciplinary approach combined a quantification of spatial overlap of activities by using Vessel Monitoring System and logbook data with a stakeholder consultation to conclude and verify on the actual feasibility of co-location. In the German Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the North Sea up to 90% of Danish and 40% of German annual gillnet fleet landings of plaice overlapped with areas where OWFs are developed. Our results indicated further that the international gillnet fishery could lose up to 50% in landings within the North Sea German EEZ when OWF areas are closed entirely for fisheries. No spatial overlap was found for UK potters targeting brown crab in the German EEZ. We further identified a number of key issues and obstacles that to date hinder an actual implementation of co-location as a measure in the marine spatial planning process: defining the legal base; implementation of safety regulations; delineation of minimum requirements for fishing vessels such as capacities, quotas, technical equipment; implementation of a licensing process; and scoping for financial subsidies to set up business. The stakeholder consultation verified the scientific findings and highlighted that all those points need to be addressed in a planning process. In the German EEZ we have shown that the socio-economic importance of spatial overlap varies within planning boundaries. Therefore we recommend an interdisciplinary bottom-up approach when scoping for suitable areas of co-location. Hence, an informed marine spatial planning process requires comprehensive and spatial explicit socio-economic viability studies factoring in also ecological effects of OWFs on target species.
The potential power output expected from the installation of a tidal farm near the mesotidal Ria de Vigo (NW Spain) is assessed using two different tidal stream energy converters (TEC). For this, the results of a previous resource assessment based on a 28-day long hydrodynamic simulation are used. From this data we identify the areas susceptible of hosting the farms, select the optimal location for them, and assess the total available and extractable energy for each turbine type. Finally, using a simple farm design based on standard inter-turbine separation, we estimate the expected power supplied by the farm. Irrespective of the site, the total available tidal power in the areas susceptible of hosting the farms is around 150 MW; at the optimal location, the hourly extractable power is about 22.5 MW, of which only between 10% and 15% can be harnessed by the designed farms, powering between 4411 and 6638 homes. A local analysis of the most energetic subregions within these sites increases this ratio up to 30%. Nevertheless, the power output is sufficient to fulfil the needs of between 1660 and 2213 households, depending on the chosen site and the selected TEC.
Society's dependence on weather systems has broadened to include electricity generation from wind turbines. Climate change is altering energy flows in the atmosphere, which will affect the economic potential of wind power. Changes to wind resources and their upstream impacts on the energy industry have received limited academic attention, despite their risks earning interest from investors.
We propose a framework for assessing the impact of climate change on the cost of wind energy, going from the change in hourly wind speed distributions from radiative forcing through to energy output and levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) from wind farms. The paper outlines the proof of concept for this framework, exploring the limitations of global climate models for assessing wind resources, and a novel Weibull transfer function to characterise the climate signal.
The framework is demonstrated by considering the UK's wind resources to 2100. Results are mixed: capacity factors increase in some regions and decrease in others, while the year-to-year variation generally increases. This highlights important financial and risk impacts which can be adopted into policy to enhance energy system resilience to the impacts of climate change. We call for greater emphasis to be placed on modelling wind resources in climate science.
The Cape Verde Islands form an archipelago off the African coast in the Atlantic Ocean. Since it is highly dependent on fossil fuels, Cape Verde decision makers have started to take into account also the potential of renewable energies, especially wind and solar. In particular, wind power has already 26 MW installed. From this perspective, the present work aims to be a first step in the evaluation of a different source of renewable energy, the wave energy. Using reanalysis data from ECMWF, the SWAN model was run for a 10-year period, covering the time interval 2004–2013, using a methodology already implemented in other island environments. Moreover, three years of this high resolution data are compared with the available altimetry data. In this way, a dataset of the sea state conditions around Cape Verde Islands was produced. This dataset is further used for wave climate analyses and wave energy resource assessments. This study indicates that the coastal environment of the Cape Verde Islands, and especially some particular areas, present considerable wave energy resources that should be taken in consideration for extraction in the near future.
Specific objectives of this study were to determine:
- The differences among fish and invertebrate communities associated with energized and unenergized cable habitat and those communities in soft sea oor habitats lacking cables.
- Whether electrosensitive species that are regionally important such as sharks and rays respond (via either attraction or repulsion) to the EMF’s of an in situ power transmission cable.
- The strength, spatial extent, and variability of EMF’s along both energized and unenergized cables.
- The potential effectiveness of the commonly proposed mitigation of cable burial.
Knowledge gained from this study will be directly applicable to renewable energy projects not only in the Pacific OCS region, but to any OCS planning area.
Worldwide growth of offshore renewable energy production will provide marine organisms with new hard substrate for colonization in terms of artificial reefs. The artificial reef effect is important when planning offshore installations since it can create habitat enhancement. Wind power is the most advanced technology within offshore renewable energy sources and there is an urgent need to study its impacts on the marine environment. To test the hypothesis that offshore wind power increases the abundance of reef species relative to a reference area, we conduct an experiment on the model species common shore crab (Carcinus maenas).Overall, 3962 crabs were captured, observed, marked and released in 2011 and 1995 crabs in 2012. Additionally, carapace size, sex distribution, color morphs and body condition was recorded from captured crabs. We observed very low recapture rates at all sites during both years which made evaluating differences in population sizes very difficult. However, we were able to estimate population densities from the capture record for all three sites. There was no obvious artificial reef effect in the Lillgrund wind farm, but a spill-over effect to nearby habitats cannot be excluded. We could not find any effect of the wind farm on either, morphs, sex distribution or condition of the common shore crab. Our study found no evidence that Lillgrund wind farm has a negative effect on populations of the common shore crab. This study provides the first quantitative and experimental data on the common shore crab in relation to offshore wind farms.