Current state of knowledge of effects of offshore renewable energy generation devices on marine mammals and research requirements

The report describes the current state of knowledge of effects of offshore renewable energy devices on marine mammals and then identifies a prioritised list of research gaps.

8 Appendix 2. Related OREG Working and Other groups

A number of national and international bodies are involved in setting research priorities and directing funding for environmental aspects of marine renewable energy developments. In addition, there are research working groups and research consortia at both national and international levels. The roles and membership of these bodies tend to overlap substantially. The following list is divided into three sections, first organisations with a remit to investigate and/or provide management advice on interactions between marine mammals and OREG developments; second a list of OREG test centres with potential for investigating some aspects of marine mammal interactions and finally a list of recent and on-going funding programmes incorporating some aspect of the environmental aspects of OREG developments.

8.1 Working groups

8.1.1 UK The Marine Energy Spatial Planning Group ( MESPG) recently renamed the MS- SNH Marine Renewables Research Group

MESPG was formed in response to a Strategic Environmental Assessment ( SEA) for wet renewables which examined marine zones with potential to tidal and wave energy development to the north and west of Scotland. The MESPG consists of Scottish Government (Marine Scotland and SG Energy), Regulators/ Agencies ( SNH and the Crown Estate), Local Government (Highland, Western Isles and Orkney Islands Councils), the Enterprise network (Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise) and industry partners (Scottish Renewables Forum). MESPG established an Environmental Research Sub Group ( ERSG) which concentrated on issues relating to new technology deployments and gaps in understanding of environmental interactions.

Details of MESPG structure and responsibilities can be downloaded at NERC Marine Renewable Energy knowledge exchange programme

The UK's commitment to marine renewable energy brings with it significant environmental challenges. The marine renewable energy sector needs to better understand the potential impact of wave and tidal devices on the ecology and hydrodynamics of the marine environment and the long-term impact of wind farms, particularly in deep-water settings.

To meet the challenges presented by these potential impacts, the programme is working to catalyse the development of stronger partnerships between the academic, public and private sectors. It:

  • Provides the private and public sectors with access to potential suppliers of the most up-to-date academic research in this field.
  • Facilitates public, private and academic sectors in integrating policy, business and research needs.
  • Supports the private and public sectors in delivering a sustainable future for marine renewable energy.
  • The latest information about the programme, including news and events, is available on the interactive knowledge exchange portal. The portal:
  • Contains information on research, technologies and policy for the sector, and provides access to relevant data and literature.
  • Is a useful hub for connecting with others in the sector.
  • Provides up to date information on relevant funding opportunities. Welsh Government: Marine Renewable Energy Strategic Framework

Welsh Assembly Government ( WAG) developed a Marine Renewable Energy Strategic Framework ( MRESF) to investigate the potential marine renewable energy resource of Welsh Territorial Waters ( TWs) and to consider potential scenarios for the sustainable development of that resource. The final report is available at (

The project was undertaken in three stages, starting in 2007:

  • Stage 1, literature reviews, data gathering, stakeholder engagement and GIS mapping.
  • Stage 2 a number of discrete reports, each aimed at increasing the knowledge base for a number of key data gaps in Welsh TWs identified as part of Stage 1.
  • Stage 3 has drawn on the findings of Stages 1 and 2 to develop the Framework. The MRESF project team is comprised of RPS staff, with the project Steering Group including invited members from the following: The Welsh Assembly Government; Ministry of Defence; The Crown Estate; Countryside Council for Wales; Department of Energy and Climate Change; The Marine Management Organisation and Cefas. UKERC UK Energy Research Centre:

UKERC was created in 2004 on the recommendation of the Chief Scientific Advisor's Energy Research Review Group. It is a research consortium led by Imperial College London, University of Oxford, Cardiff University, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, University College London and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. The UK Energy Research Centre carries out research into sustainable future energy systems. UKERC has a core research programme and also administers a competitive UKERC Research Fund. UKERC represents UK interests on the EERA.

The research is divided into themes, one of which covers Energy & Environment and is led by Plymouth Marine Laboratory. The theme aims to develop strategies for marine and land-based energy production and greenhouse gas ( GHG) mitigation technologies which limit environmental impacts while safeguarding or even restoring the ecosystem.

There are three main activities:

  • development of analytical tools applicable to all energy technologies in a common framework to assess their contribution to GHG emissions reductions
  • development and application of modelling and valuation methods for assessing environmental and socio-economic impact of offshore energy production technologies
  • development and testing of methods for assessing environmental and socio-economic impacts of developing bioenergy resources


EERA is an alliance of energy research organisations across Europe. The primary focus of EERA is to accelerate the development of energy technologies to the point where they can be embedded in industry-driven research. In order to achieve this goal, EERA streamlines and coordinates national and European energy R&D programmes under the EERA Joint Programmes.

The EERA Joint Programmes constitute strategic, permanent collaborations between major research organisations and institutes forming a virtual centre of excellence. In response to the EU's SET-PLAN, the Joint Programmes implement the need for better coordination among Member States, maximising synergies and identifying priorities for future funding.

In 2011 an Ocean Energy JP was launched. It comprises six themes including Environmental Impact. An initial workshop was held in late 2011. The report is available at: SOWFIA Streamlining of Ocean Wave Farms Impact Assessment

The aim of SOWFIA is to facilitate the development of European wide coordinated, unified and streamlined Environmental and Socio-economic Impact Assessment ( IA) tools for offshore wave energy developments.

This will be achieved through two key approaches:

  • Knowledge Collection & Transfer: By utilising the findings from technology specific monitoring at these sites, SOWFIA will facilitate knowledge transfer and augment European-wide expertise on environmental and socio-economic IA of large scale wave energy projects.
  • Two-Way Information Flow: this information will be communicated and shared with the wave energy community across Europe. Through a two-way process, developers will have the opportunity to contribute their experiences to date with consenting processes, environmental and socio-economic impact assessment. This will facilitate the development of best practice guidance for future offshore wave energy developments.

SOWFIA will produce a series of guidance documents on specific aspects of environmental and social impact assessment for developers and regulators, based on scientific evidence from across Europe, supplemented by the expertise of wave energy developers to date.

One of the initial outputs will be a catalogue that identifies all European locations where wave energy devices are being tested, specifying all the impact assessments that have been carried out to date. This information will feed into a dynamic online database that will be useful to both the developers and regulatory bodies as well as accessible to the public.

Subsequent to compilation and analysis of the relevant data, the project will engage in extensive and continuous stakeholder participation. This will give policy makers, governments, investors, engineering firms, manufacturers, device developers and NGOs the opportunity to share their experience in order to improve the effectiveness and relevance of future impact assessments. Marine Renewables Infrastructure Network ( MARINET)

MARINET (Marine Renewables Infrastructure Network) is an EU-funded infrastructure initiative comprising a network of research centres and organisations involved in Marine Renewables technologies. The initiative aims to streamline and facilitate testing by offering periods of free-of-charge access to world-class test facilities and by developing joint approaches to testing standards, research and industry networking & training.

The €11m network initiative is majority-funded through the EC's Seventh Framework Programme ( FP7) and runs for four years until 2015. The network of 29 partners with 42 specialist marine research facilities is spread across 11 EU countries and 1 FP7 partner-country, Brazil.

Companies and research groups can avail of periods of free-of-charge access to cross-border facilities ("Transnational Access" - TA) to test devices at any scale in areas such as wave energy, tidal energy, offshore-wind energy and environmental data or to conduct tests in cross-cutting common areas such as power take-off systems, grid integration, materials or moorings. In total, over 700 weeks of access is available to an estimated 300 projects and 800 external users, with at least four calls for access applications over the 4-year initiative.

In parallel to offering free-of-charge access, MARINET partners are working together to:

  • implement common standards for testing across the network in order to streamline the development process,
  • conduct coordinated research to improve testing capabilities across the network,
  • facilitate industry networking & training in the form of user workshops, staff exchange and free-of-charge training courses in order to provide opportunities for collaboration, joint ventures and expertise development.

Access is open to research groups and companies of any size who wish to avail of these facilities. The two main conditions are that the majority of the applicant group must work in Europe or a country associated to the European FP7 programme, and the proposed facility must be outside the applicant's home state. ICES Working Group on Marine Mammal Ecology.

In 2010, 2011 and 2012 the ICES WGMME held workshops to discuss aspects of marine renewable developments of interest to marine mammal management. These were essentially discussion groups with no formal remit to design or define research priorities. The work shop reports are available at ASCOBANS

The Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic, North East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas ( ASCOBANS) is a regional agreement set up under the UNEP Convention on Migratory Species, or Bonn Convention, in September 1991. In 2009 ASCOBANS held a series of workshops addressing the issue of marine renewable effects on small cetaceans and provided comment and advice on questions related to marine mammals and renewable energy developments. The workshop reports and comments ( MOP6_5-06, AC16_42; MOP6_2009-2) are available at

8.1.3 United States of America The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management ( BOEM)

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management ( BOEM) manages the exploration and development of the nation's offshore resources. It seeks to appropriately balance economic development, energy independence, and environmental protection through oil and gas leases, renewable energy development and environmental reviews and studies.

Key functions of BOEM include:

BOEM is responsible for offshore Renewable Energy Programs. The Renewable Energy Program grants leases, easements, and rights-of-way for orderly, safe, and environmentally responsible renewable energy development activities.

BOEM's Office of Environmental Programs conducts environmental reviews, including National Environmental Policy Act ( NEPA) analyses and compliance documents for each major stage of energy development planning. These analyses inform the bureau's decisions on the Five Year Program, and conventional and renewable energy leasing and development activities. Additionally, BOEM's scientists conduct and oversee environmental studies to inform policy decisions relating to the management of energy and marine mineral resources on the OCS.

BOEM regional offices manage oil and gas resource evaluations, environmental studies and assessments, leasing activities including the review of Exploration Plans and Development Operations and Coordination Documents, fair market value determinations, and geological and geophysical permitting.

The Office of Strategic Resources, oversees assessments of the oil, gas and other mineral resource potential of the Outer Continental Shelf, and BOEM handles the actual Oil and Gas Lease Sales, along with Sand and Gravel negotiated agreements and official maps and GIS data.

In addition, the United States Department of Energy has established three National Marine Renewable Energy Centres; the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center (NNMREC) the Hawaii National Marine Renewable Energy Center (HINMREC) and the Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center (SNMREC).

The NNMREC is a partnership between Oregon State University (OSU) and the University of Washington (UW). OSU focuses on wave energy. UW focuses on tidal energy. NNMREC has a full range of capabilities to support wave and tidal energy development and serves as an integrated, standardized test centre for U.S. and international developers of wave and tidal energy. They are in the process of commissioning a relocatable offshore OREG testing platform due to be operational in late 2012.

The HINMREC was established to facilitate commercialization of Wave Energy Conversion (WEC) devices and to accelerate development and testing of Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) technologies

SNMRECat Florida Atlantic University seeks to advance the science and technology of recovering energy from the oceans' renewable resources, with special emphasis on those resources available to the south-eastern US: initially focusing on ocean currents and offshore thermal resources.

8.1.4 Canada Fundy Energy Research Network ( FERN)

FERN is an independent non-profit organization initiated by academic and government researchers as a forum to:

  • Coordinate and foster research collaborations, capacity building and information exchange to advance knowledge, understanding and technical solutions related to the environmental, engineering & socio-economic factors associated with tidal energy development in the Bay of Fundy .
  • To identify and provide objective guidance on emerging and priority issues related to tidal energy proposals and developments;
  • To facilitate research collaboration and information sharing among government scientists, academia and tidal energy developers to address environmental, socio-economic and engineering issues and challenges associated with tidal energy developments in the Bay of Fundy;
  • To enable creation of research teams capable of obtaining funding to support collaborative research and training of the next generation of highly qualified people;
  • To enhance communication and cooperation among those involved in tidal energy research and development;
  • To develop and maintain productive relationships with regional, national and international groups involved in tidal energy research;
  • To communicate information and research progress through meetings, seminars, conferences, reports, FERN website, and/or other forms of public presentation.

8.1.5 International International Energy Agency: Ocean Energy Systems ( IEA: OES)

The Ocean Energy Systems Implementing Agreement ( OES) is an intergovernmental collaboration between countries, which operates under framework established by the International Energy Agency in Paris.

The Ocean Energy Systems Implementing Agreement ( OES) was launched in 2001. The need for technology cooperation was identified in response to increased activity in the development of ocean wave and tidal current energy in the latter part of the 1990's and the beginning of this decade, primarily in Denmark, Portugal and the United Kingdom. These three countries were the inaugural signatories to the OES.

The OES brings together countries to advance research, development and demonstration of conversion technologies to harness energy from all forms of ocean renewable resources, such as tides, waves, currents, temperature gradient (ocean thermal energy conversion and submarine geothermal energy) and salinity gradient for electricity generation, as well as for other uses, such as desalination, through international cooperation and information exchange.

OES has 19 member countries (as of Nov. 2011). Participants in the OES are specialists from government departments, national energy agencies, research or scientific bodies and academia, nominated by the Contracting Parties. International Whaling Commission ( IWC) Scientific Committee

The IWC has recently started to consider marine renewable energy developments noting that baseline data on the impact of interactions with cetaceans are lacking. In response to this perceived lack of knowledge a workshop aimed at identifying research needs and formulating recommendations for research, monitoring, conservation and management was held in 2012. A copy of the report Workshop on interactions between marine renewable projects and cetaceans Worldwide ( SC / 64/ Rep6 Rev1) is available at

The workshop considered in particular the current state of development of marine renewable energy in waters off Germany, the United Kingdom, Belgium and the United States.

8.2 Operational open sea OREG test centres

Centres with potential for testing interactions with marine mammals

8.2.1 UK The European Marine Energy Centre ( EMEC)

EMEC Ltd was established in 2003 as the first and only centre of its kind in the world to provide developers of both wave and tidal energy converters with purpose-built, accredited open-sea testing facilities.

With 14 full-scale grid-connected test berths and two scale test sites where smaller scale devices can gain real sea experience in less challenging conditions than those experienced at the full-scale wave and tidal test sites.

Operations are spread over five sites across Orkney:

1. Billia Croo wave energy test site, Stromness, Mainland Orkney
2. Fall of Warness tidal energy test site, off the island of Eday
3. Nursery wave test site at Scapa Flow, off St Mary's Bay
4. Nursery tidal test site at Shapinsay Sound, off Head of Holland WAVE HUB

Wave Hub off the north coast of Cornwall in South West England provides shared offshore infrastructure for the demonstration and proving of arrays of wave energy generation devices over a sustained period of time. It consists of an electrical hub on the seabed 16 kilometres offshore to which wave energy devices can be connected. The hub is linked to the UK's grid network via a 25km subsea cable operating at 11kV.

The project holds a 25-year lease for eight square kilometres of sea with an excellent wave climate. Wave Hub has the necessary consents and permits for up to 20 MW of wave energy generation and offers a clearly defined and fully monitored site for marine energy production. Four separate berths are available to lease, each with a capacity of 4-5 MW. Wave Hub can readily be upgraded for up to 50 MW of generating capacity in the future once suitable components for operating the cable at 33kV have been developed.

Wave Hub is complemented by the Peninsula Research Institute for Marine Renewable Energy, a centre of excellence delivering research, facilities and technology transfer in marine energy, excellent port infrastructure and an established supply chain in South West England.

Wave Hub has been funded by the South West RDA, the European Regional Development Fund Convergence Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and the UK government.

8.2.2 EUROPE SEAI_OEDU - Wave Energy Test Site

Belmullet, Co. Mayo Ireland

The project is intended to be fully operational by 2013/2014 depending on the readiness of full scale wave energy converters. The information given below is therefore based on the current proposed design of the test site

  • Full scale wave energy test site with 10 MW export capability
  • Two separate off-shore test areas, 1x 50m Water depth, 1x 100m water depth
  • Two 10KV cables with integrated fibre optic to each test area
  • Each separate test area is capable of containing individual devices or arrays
  • The project will be focused primarily on providing open sea test facilities for full scale pre-commercial devices - Provides for one of the best wave resources in the world.
  • Grid connection - 10 MW export capability
  • Wave and current resource data relevant to the site
  • Meteorological data for the area

Ongoing environmental and acoustic monitoring

AMETS is a test site orientated towards testing of pre-commercial devices. With its extreme wave resource available it is suited as a final stage test facility. While grid connected for wave energy converters, AMETS will accommodate other ocean energy related project, such as acoustic monitoring etc. SEAI_OEDU - Wave Energy Test Site, Galway Bay

The Galway Bay test site is a quarter scale test site for floating wave energy devices. This site is located on the west coast of Ireland in Galway Bay off the Spiddal coast. Analysis of wave data since 2005 data has shown that for quarter scale devices the site can be highly energetic and comparable to the Atlantic Ocean off the west coast of Ireland.

Test area 37 Hectares, mean water depth of 23m and a tidal range of 4m.

Two device berths within test area

A non-directional wave recording buoy.

The site is not grid connected

A network of data buoy sensors provides information on the resource and meteorological conditions at the test facilities.

Typical projects/examples:

Testing of ¼ scale prototype devices. EVE - Biscay Marine Energy Platform- bimep

The Biscay Marine Energy Platform (bimep) is an open sea test infrastructure for research and demonstration of offshore Wave Energy Converters (WEC). The facility will (apparently scheduled to open in 2013) offer the opportunity for testing full-scale prototype devices as single devices or arrays in order to assess and monitor performance.

Main characteristics of the infrastructure:

  • high energy potential (21 kW/m)
  • Water depth between 50-90m.
  • Closest point to the land: 1km.
  • A rectangle area (4 x 2 km, including a safety area) has been defined to hold the WECs.
  • 4 grid connected test berths or power connection units of 13 kV and 5 MW. Overall power: 20 MW.

The infrastructure is still apparently under construction. AAU - Nissum Bredning Test Site

Helligsø, Denmark

Infrastructure Specification:

  • Single wave device testing berth.
  • Grid connection.
  • Mooring pile.
  • Water depth 4-6 m in the test area.
  • Access to wind and wave measurements.
  • Statistics on wind and waves in the area.
  • Typical Projects/Examples:
  • 30 Wave energy devices have been tested in scale 1:10 to 1:4.

WAVEC - status unclear. Air column test generator facility may be operational but probably of little relevance to issues relating to OREG in Scottish waters

8.2.3 CANADA Fundy Ocean Research Center for Energy ( FORCE)

FORCE is a test center for in-stream tidal energy technology in the Bay of Fundy in eastern Canada. FORCE provides a shared observation facility, submarine cables, grid connection, and environmental monitoring at its pre-approved test site. FORCE receives funding support from the Government of Canada, the Province of Nova Scotia, Encana Corporation, and participating developers.

FORCE's test site is in the Minas Passage area of the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia. Minas Passage is 5 km wide and has the world's highest tides. At mid-tide, the current in Minas Passage is about 4 cubic kilometres per hour, the same as the estimated combined flow of all the rivers and streams on Earth combined. Features of the site include: water depths up to 45 and currents up to 5 metres per second on ebb and flood.

Nova Scotia Power tested a 1 megawatt OpenHydro turbine at this site between November 2009 and December 2010. The land-based facility is now complete and open to the public.

8.3 UK funded research programmes

Current and recent UK funded research programmes (excluding Scottish Government funded programmes) involving environmental aspects of marine renewable developments

8.3.1 SuperGen Marine (Phase 1)

Funded by EPSRC

Generic research to reduce risk and uncertainty for marine energy development. A consortium of 5 core universities: Edinburgh, Heriot Watt, Robert Gordon, Lancaster and Strathclyde.

£2.6 million 2003 - 2007

8.3.2 SuperGen Marine (Phase 2)

Funded by EPSRC

Generic research towards increasing understanding of the device-sea interactions of energy converters from model-scale in the laboratory to full size in the open sea. A consortium of 5 core universities: Edinburgh, Heriot Watt, Lancaster, Strathclyde and Queen's University Belfast. £5.5 million 2007 - 2011

8.3.3 SuperGen UK Centre for Marine Energy Research ( UKCMER)

Funded by EPSRC

A consortium with core universities: Edinburgh, Strathclyde, Exeter and Queen's University Belfast. Research towards array planning, turbulence, power take off development, reliability, mooring and foundations, and environmental impact.
2.75 million 2011 - 2016

8.3.4 UK Energy Research Centre ( UKERC)

Funded by NERC

The UK Energy Research Centre carries out world-class research into sustainable future energy systems. Coordinators of the National Research network and developers of roadmap documents for renewable energy. A roadmap for marine energy was produced in 2008 and is available on the UKERC website. £170k for marine (phase 1) Approx £150k for phase 2 2004 - 2009 (phase 1) 2009 - 2014 (phase 2)

8.3.5 EPSRC Grand Challenge (SuperGen Marine Challenge 1)

Funded by EPSRC

Proposals were invited for collaborative research proposals for fundamental research that will overcome barriers to Marine energy deployment. The remit of this call is regarding those aspects of marine energy generation technologies, the environmental impacts of the technologies and the socioeconomic aspects of marine energy (including policy) that are holding back the deployment of marine energy.
£3 million 2011 - 2014

8.3.6 EPSRC Grand Challenge (SuperGen Marine Challenge 2)

Funded by EPSRC

Proposals were invited for fundamental research that will investigate novel concepts for marine energy deployment on 2050 timescales. The remit of this call is all aspects of marine energy generation technologies, the environmental impacts of the technologies and the socioeconomic aspects of marine energy (including policy). £3 million 2012-

8.3.7 Marine Renewable Energy Research Programme

Funded by NERC/Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)

The overall aim of the research programme is to understand the environmental benefits and risks of up-scaling marine renewable energy schemes on the quality of marine bioresources (including biodiversity) and biophysical dynamics of open coasts. £2.4 million 2012-2015

8.3.8 The Research Councils UK Energy Programme


The Research Councils UK Energy Programme aims to position the UK to meet its energy and environmental targets, and policy goals through world-class research and training. The Energy Programme is a collaboration of research councils and is investing more than £530 million in research and skills to pioneer a low carbon future. This builds on an investment of £360 million over the past 5 years. The Energy Programme funds some marine research.

£7.7 million into marine renewables (including SuperGen)

8.3.9 Developing The Offshore Wind Supply Chain

Funded by TSB and DECC

The Department of Energy and Climate Change ( DECC) and the Technology Strategy Board ( TSB) are investing up to £11.2m in technical feasibility studies; development and demonstration of component technologies; and knowledge transfer partnerships ( KTP) to stimulate innovation in the UK offshore wind sector and to strengthen the supply chain.

Up to £7m is available for the third round of DECC and the Technology Strategy Board's offshore wind component technologies development and demonstration scheme. Applications are invited from single businesses or consortia, including those not currently established in the UK or those seeking to expand into the offshore wind sector. Successful projects are expected to attract between about 25% and 60% public funding, and may receive up to £4m funding per project.
This competition opened in November 2012 and the deadline for applications is
16 January 2013

Up to £3m is also being provided for technical feasibility studies lasting up to a year and applications should be made to the Technology Strategy Board. Projects must be led by a UK business and may be developed by a single company or be collaborative. They will attract up to 75% public funding of up to £100k for pre- industrial research, with total project sizes expected to be between £100k and £150k. The deadline for applications is noon on 16 January 2013.

8.3.10 Developing the offshore renewable energy supply chain: Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

Funded by the TSB and NERC

TSB & NERC are to invest up to £1.2m to establish new Knowledge Transfer Partnerships ( KTPs) in the field of offshore renewable energy to stimulate and support innovation in the offshore renewable energy supply chain.

The aim is to establish a group of KTPs that will run together as a cohort, supported by a programme of networking between the partners. This call is currently open with a deadline for applications of 24 April 2013.

8.3.11 Marine energy: Supporting array technologies

Funded by NERC, TSB and Scottish Enterprise.

The TSB, Scottish Enterprise and NERC are investing £10.5m in collaborative research and development to support successful deployment and operation of the first series of wave and tidal energy arrays.

The competition, aims to encourage innovation that can address key common challenges to de-risk deployment of early arrays by removing technical barriers and reduce the cost of energy produced.

Proposals had to be collaborative and business-led. The competition opened in spring 2012. Successful projects required 50% industry funding to match 50% public funding. Project funding ranged between £500k and £1.5m per project.


Back to top