Partnership for Public Engagement: Facts about Wave and Tidal Energy

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Sch of Biological Sciences


The United Kingdom is blessed with one of the richest environments for exploitation using marine energy technologies. Over the last six years the SuperGen MARINE programme has been supporting the development of this emerging industrial sector by working on a range problems from the characterisation of the raw resource through to energy conversion technologies to delivery into the distribution grid together with work on the environmental consequences and the potential economic impact of large scale industry. The importance of the industry is recognised by the Department for Energy and Climate Change and the Scottish Government if the UK is to meet it's 2020 and 2050 objectives for renewable energy generation. The last decade, which opened with the installation of the LIMPET wave energy power station on Islay, has seen a considerable advance in tidal and wave energy crowned by the deployment of the SeaGen turbine in Strangford Narrows, the deployment of the world's first array of wave energy converters off the Portuguese coast, and the deployment of the OYSTER wave energy converter at the EMEC test site. UK technology developers have led all these projects. To achieve our ambitious deployment goals building capacity within the sector is critical, while SuperGen MARINE is currently training the next generation of researchers and technology developers this project seeks to enthuse future scientists and engineers to work in the sector and to enable today's young people to understand the issues and contribute to the debate on our future energy generation portfolio.It is critical that the general public, and in particular our future scientists and engineers understand the significant challenges in exploiting the oceans energy resources. Ocean energy has the capacity to provide an important component of a balanced energy portfolio for the UK, but this can only be achieved with* Informed and balanced debate on the benefits and consequences of large-scale deployment.* A dramatic increase in the number of skilled people employed in the sector.These two points are exemplified by; the time taken for, and controversy generated by, the consenting of the Beauly-Denny transmission network upgrade, and the fact that providing 2GW of marine energy generating capacity by 2020 will require manufacturing, installing and commissioning, two marine energy converters each week for the next ten years!Recent announcements of a huge expansion of offshore wind will see a sizeable increase in publicity, focus, training, jobs and opportunities in offshore wind construction, maintenance, planning and design. If marine isn't to be left behind in the rush for offshore wind, we must stimulate interest and capture the interest of young people making career choices now.This project is producing two short, 10 minute, mini-documentaries on wave and tidal energy (aimed at O/A-level and Standard/Higher-grade students) to complement the two mini-documentaries (aimed at the general public) being produced by the European EquiMar project. Once completed the films will be published on a dedicated You-Tube channel, made available on DVD to secondary schools and publicised through the project, SuperGen MARINE and EquiMar websites. They will also be dispersed via Scotland's Glow, a digital intranet for secondary schools, and via Lifelong Learning UK and Careers UK networks to schools in England and Wales. At the end of the project we will organise a public screening of the four films (in Edinburgh) followed by a panel debate ( Marine Energy Question Time ) with a panel drawn from scientists, engineers and developers participating in SuperGen and EquiMar.

Planned Impact

The direct beneficiaries of this project are School Pupils studying for O-/A-Levels and Standard-/Higher-Grade science subjects. They will be made aware of the issues and engineering challenges surrounding the deployment of marine energy and will be able to engage with the wider debate about this sector of the UKs renewable energy generation portfolio. A longer term indirect benefit will be brought about by an increase in interest and enthusiasm to pursue University careers in Science and Engineering leading to an ultimate increase in the number of trained professionals available to work in this exciting sector. If the UK is to meet its delivery targets for 2020 and 2050 then there needs to be a step change in the number of graduates working in marine energy. This sector will also bring much needed employment opportunities to remote communities in the, marine energy rich, Highlands and Islands of Scotland and the South West of England who were formally depended on industries such as fishing and mining which have significantly decreased in recent years. Whilst aimed at School Pupils the availability of the films on public sites like you-tube will allow the wider public to understand the issues and challenges. The films will be completed by the end of November 2010 and will be publicly available in early December - their uptake by the wider public will be immediate and from January 2011 School pupils and teachers will have the opportunity to view and use the materials. It is also worth noting that the films on You-Tube will be available internationally and will indirectly publicise the marine energy work on the EPSRC. The EPSRCs energy programme in general, and in particular, SuperGen MARINE will benefit from increased awareness of the nature and importance of the research work being undertaken in marine renewable energy. This project is being led by one of the managers of the SuperGen Marine consortium and the two films will complement other dissemination activities undertaken by SuperGen Marine (e.g. Annual Assembly), the EPSRC (e.g. Pioneers '09, Impact Campaign) and the EU FP7 EquiMar project. The chances of success for this project are maximised by the use of an award winning journalist (Riddoch) and her production company (Feisty) who have already worked with Ingram and who understand the marine energy sector and have experience of communicating both with the wider audience and school pupils.


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Title Laura Finlay is a Marine Scientist 
Description A short break out film to accompany "The Trouble with Waves" it looks at how and why Laura has come to work on Marine Energy and what kind of qualifications a Marine Scientist needs. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2011 
Impact This has been used with Secondary school physics teachers 
Title The Trouble with Waves 
Description Why is wave energy taking so long to develop? Professor David Ingram of Edinburgh University and journalist Lesley Riddoch explore and explain some of the challenges facing renewable marine energy. Olympic athletes, shipwrecks, long distance swimmers and seals with transponders show some of the problems. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2011 
Impact This short documentary was developed to enthuse School children and the general public about the issues related to marine energy. It is supported by educational materials and experiments for use by science teachers in the classroom. 
Description This purpose of this grant was to develop several information films for school pupils explaining wave and tidal energy and to organise a public event as part of the Edinburgh Science Festival. Consequently, it did not lead to any new discoveries. However the team learned a lot, through working with the school of education at the University of Edinburgh and media specialists (from Feisty productions) about how to appeal to secondary pupils and how to build materials for School teachers.
Exploitation Route Further work with educational specialists and professional media could lead to detailed project materials to support in full the objectives of the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence
Sectors Energy,Environment

Description The findings have been used as part of training for secondary school teachers of physics in Scotland.
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Education,Energy
Impact Types Societal