Optimising Array Form for Energy Extraction and Environmental Benefit (EBAO)

Lead Research Organisation: Loughborough University
Department Name: Electronic, Electrical & Systems Enginee


Achievement of ambitious national targets for marine renewable deployment will require that the resources can be developed effectively, economically and quickly, whilst ensuring that the natural environment is, at the very least, protected from unacceptable change and where approriate that it can actually benefit from marine energy developments. This project will establish and evaluate a design feedback process which can protect and perhaps enhance the natural environment, whilst allowing energy extraction to be maximised.
Engineers will work with project and device developers to establish approriate development scenarios which will then be considered using state of the art modelling techniques to assess the levels of ecological impact across a range of key ecological parameters. This modelling will establish the levels of impact and the sensitivity of key impacts to changes in array and device design parameters. Stakeholders will be involved in assessing the acceptablity of predicted ecological changes and the prospects of ecological benefit being enhanced.
The process loop will be completed by feeding the impact analysis findings back into the array design process to start a further iteration of the design, impact and acceptability assessment process.
It is anticipated that typically three iterations will be needed for the development scanarios to establish and refine the process to the benefit of the broader marine energy sector.
This project crosses borders from research led-engineering design, offshore engineering and marine operations to ecological science, measurement and physical modelling expertise within the consortium. The parallels between wind and wet renewable will be utilised to link from early development shallow water wind and tidal streams to floating wave and wind in deeper water. The consortium will engage with Marine Scotland and MMO from the start of the project and at key intervals through the project.
The project will proceed by interactive collaboration between: system designers; physical modellers and ecologists; regulators and project developers.
Appropriate response models will be established based upon direct involvement and interaction with cutting edge research being conducted within NERC, EPSRC; ETI and CEC funded research programmes.
A clear imperative for the first stage is to refine the choice of criterion from which to judge environmental benefit, particularly when upscaling, e.g. fisheries enhancement, acoustics, animal movement corridors.
These will then be used by the physical and ecological modellers to produce a series of configuration scenarios.
The engineering specialists in the project will identify portfolios of appropriate case studies of array developments and state of the art array modelling tools.
Case studies will be developed and interpreted using the techniques established above . The engagement of developers, trade associations, EMEC and Wave Hub is fundamental for specialist input and dissemination and the results will be interpreted in association with these broader stakeholder communities. This will be through workshops arranged to coordinate structured debate and cross consortium feedback.
This process will be, fundamentally an iterative procedure, with effective closure of the design, ecological assessment and constraint quantification process loop requiring multiple circuits prior to acceptable compromises being reached.
Management Plan
A steering committee drawn from the investigators and incorporating representatives from wind, wave and tidal developers and invited representatives from the regulators will assess and guide progress.

Planned Impact

This project which supports a radical form of proactive resource assessment, in which energy production and ecological benefits can be maximised will provide enhanced input to the planning processes necessary of the UK's ambitious marine renewable energy ambitions are to be realised. Planners will have access to procedures through which marine projects can be evaluated in an optimised form rather than simply as a predefined concept, in which ecological perturbations would be assessed a posteriori. The new procedures would not replace such assessment, indeed the processes will be capable of being refined once large scale array developments, with measurable ecological perturbations, become part of the UK generating mix. However, taking advantage of state of the art modelling and assessment procedures to inform the design processes will minimise the risk associated with large scale developments, especially where the scale is beyond that of previous developments.

This will benefit:
Regulators responsible for ecological protection, who will have robust ecological assessments developed during the project desgn processes themselves;
Project developers, who will have access to procedures designed to maximise the acceptable extraction of energy for a chosen development site; the broader marine stakeholder community, who will have input into establishing the acceptability criteria for development;
UK energy planning, including that by the devolved authorities, which will be able to draw more robust estimates of the prospective acceptable marine energy resources, based upon the application of the newly established EBAO protocols;

The EBAO principles, although established using UK case studies, will be applicable internationally, so that all of the UK related benefits will be applicable across a much wider domain. This will allow the marine sector to make significant impact on world CO2 emissions by robustly informing the design and planning processes across those regions where marine energy has a potential input to the energy mix. However, it is anticipated that the UK will have particular benefits resulting from the large resource in UK waters and the UK's leadership in the development of its resource, exemplified by the European Marine Energy Centre and Wavehub. This is particularly important given the size of the broader energy industry to the UK economy and the expected reductions in petroleum production in forthcoming decades.

The EBAO development cycles will commence within the first six months of the project and from that stage will be able to contribute to the marine energy development process in the UK. By the completion of the EBAO funding, the principles will be able to inform any marine development worldwide, although, of course, the principles will be available to anyone in the sector throughout the project allowing early application by any developer/regulator wishing to use them in their processess. The experiences of anyone outside the project team applying EBAO principles will, of course, be assimilated in the evolution of the protocols. It is anticipated that the EBAO protocols will be available in time to contribute to the first large scale wave and tidal current developments, which are anticipated during the funding period of the EBAO project.

The skills and principles established within EBAO, although directed towards the marine sector, should be applicable in any sector dependent upon optimising development subject to ecological constraints. This includes all energy industries, not just the renewables.


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Description Development of large scale acoustic modeling techniques for underwater noise from offshore marine renewables (wind, wave and tidal).

Development of individual animal based modelling methods using a Monte Carlo approach for determining exposure risk from underwater noise for marine renewable energy systems.
Exploitation Route Development of parallel running multi-physic / biological modeling methodologies to allow determination of array optimization methods for marine renewable systems Project outputs disseminated to wider industry
Sectors Energy,Environment

Description Involvement in various ISO development in the area of underwater noise associated with wave and tidal systems. 1) IEC TC 114 PT 62600-40 the development of a standard to characterize the sound from marine energy converters. 2) Work from the EBOA project resulted in participation as a funded project partner in EPSRC Modelling, Optimisation and Design of Conversion for Offshore Renewable Energy (UK-China MOD-CORE) project EPSRC (EP/R007756/1) building on large scale modelling of noise impact from marine energy systems from
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Agriculture, Food and Drink,Energy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Policy & public services

Description Development of guidance notes for regulators for underwater monitoring at wave and Tidal Energy Site
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
URL http://www.nerc.ac.uk/innovation/activities/infrastructure/offshore/underwater-acoustic-monitoring-g...
Description Good practice guide: underwater noise measurment
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact This guidance document has been cited in the development of a number of international standards documents for performing underwater noise assessment particularly of marine energy system. The aim was to improve best practice both for regulators and industry practitioners by reducing the risk of uncertainty in the environmental impact assessment process for offshore projects and related economic impacts. No quantitive evaluation of direct impact is possible at this time.
URL http://www.npl.co.uk/content/ConPublication/6112
Description Knowledge Transfer Program (KTP)
Amount £140,505 (GBP)
Funding ID 9039-508742 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2013 
End 07/2015
Description Modelling, Optimisation and Design of Conversion for Offshore Renewable Energy (UK-China MOD-CORE)
Amount £229,977 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/R007756/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2017 
End 06/2020
Description Anaysis of acoustic output from wave and tidal energy systems 
Organisation European Marine Energy Centre, Orkney
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Collaborative on going analysis of tidal stream data obtained from drift trials and seabed hydrophone.
Collaborator Contribution Data acquisition and data management of underwater recordings from tidal energy sites
Impact Joint publications in preparation in the field of underwater noise from tidal stream devices. Ongoing research proposal development.
Start Year 2015
Description Collaborative partnership with SAMS 
Organisation Scottish Association For Marine Science
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Ongoing partnership in the area of joint project development and delivery in the area of impact assessment of Marine Energy Systems. Multiple joint project since this one and serval journal research outputs.
Collaborator Contribution Ongoing partnership in the area of joint project development and delivery in the area of impact assessment of Marine Energy Systems. Multiple joint project since this one and serval journal research outputs.
Impact Conference Paper: Good noise, bad noise: a tricky case of balancing risk of physical injury against acoustic disturbance for marine mammals & tidal energy devices. Ben Wilson, Brett Marmo, Paul Lepper, Denise Risch, Steven Benjamins , Gordon Hastie and Caroline Carter- May 2017The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 141(5):3921-3921 DOI10.1121/1.4988861Conference: The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (multidisciplinary - physical sciences, marine biology, oceanography, physical acoustics and numerical modelling). Journal Paper van der Molen, J, Smith, HCM, Lepper, P, Limpenny, S, Rees, J (2014) Predicting the large-scale consequences of offshore wind turbine array development on a North Sea ecosystem, Continental Shelf Research, 85, pp.60-72, ISSN: 0278-4343. DOI: 10.1016/j.csr.2014.05.018. Joint project NERC: Measuring ADD Noise in Tidal Streams (MANTIS) (2017) NE/R014132/1 Joint Project Research Forum (SARF): Impact of ADD on marine wildlife (2015)
Start Year 2012