Marine Renewable Energy
What is marine renewable energy?
Marine renewable energy is the power harnessed from the wind, waves and tide and is typically regarded as an abundant, inexhaustible and non-polluting resource. Spurred on by the growing global energy crisis and to meet requirements to reduce greenhouse gases derived from burning fossil fuels, governments around the world are investing in new renewable energy technologies and much of this development is going on out at sea.
There has been an unprecedented expansion of marine renewable energy developments, particularly in UK waters, and this is likely to continue to be so for the future. Marine renewable energy plants are also being developed in many other countries across Europe and in the wider world, including in the USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.
These developments are likely to be the most intensive engineering interventions in the UK's coastal waters in the next decade and, as such, attention needs to be given to their environmental impacts on cetaceans and other marine wildlife.
There have been some investigations into the impacts of marine wind farms on harbour porpoises but as wave and tidal devices are still relatively new, little is known about their potential impacts on these and other marine species.
Large scale developments, in UK waters, covering thousands of square kilometres are now planned, but data on the likely impact of this expansion on the 28 cetacean species found in UK waters are lacking, or at best limited. However, the available information, including inferences drawn from the impact of other human activities in the marine environment, indicates a significant risk of negative consequences, with the noise from pile driving highlighted as a major concern.
WDCS believes the impacts on marine wildlife, not only cetaceans, should be taken into account, not only from the moment of submitting proposals, but from the point of conception. We believe that these impacts should be implicit in the design, rather than farther down the developmental line, and that a device that has not been developed accordingly should not be given the consents to be deployed.Find out more
about Marine Renewable Energy and whales and dolphins (pdf).