Flow, Water column & Benthic Ecology 4D (FLOWBEC)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Aberdeen
Department Name: Inst of Biological and Environmental Sci

Abstract

FLOWBEC aims at measuring FLOW, Water Column and Benthic ECology in 4 dimensions to assess the potential effects of Marine Renewable Energy Devices (MREDs) on the environment. It addresses clear knowledge gaps identified by NERC, DEFRA and UKERC in the effects of MREDs on flow conditions, habitats and ecological interactions. It will use a wealth of observation techniques above and under water, ranging from radar to sonar and in situ measurements, to be deployed over 2 years at 3 key sites around the UK. These measurements will feed into models of ecological interactions and habitat preferences, allowing predictions of the multiple effects of large MRED arrays.
Being fully cross-disciplinary, this project will engage different academic beneficiaries at each stage. Researchers in the field of instrument design (in the laboratory and at sea) will benefit from our experience in building the different systems and adapting them to long-term deployments on the seabed, in extremely challenging environments. This will be done by carefully planned Knowledge Exchange activities and open-access publication of our results, as well as exchange of personnel. The avenues opened for continuous imaging of complex and dynamic 3-D structures will be useful to researchers in other fields associated with ecological systems and marine structures, but also in medical 4-D imaging.

Planned Impact

See lead proposal

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description The FLOWBEC-4D (Flow, Water column & Benthic Ecology 4D) project developed a seabed instrument platform to investigate the environmental and ecological effects of installing and operating wave and tidal energy devices. The FLOWBEC platform combined several instruments to track the behaviour, distribution, depth preference and interactions of birds, fish schools and marine mammals with marine renewable energy devices to reveal how animals forage within dynamic marine habitats and whether individuals face collision risks. Five 2-week deployments were completed in 2012 and 2013 at wave and tidal energy sites, both in the presence and absence of renewable energy structures at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), Orkney, UK. These results are being used to assess collision risk and to guide marine spatial planning, device design, licensing and operation, as different device types are tested, as individual devices are scaled up to arrays, and as new sites are considered. This accurate and quantitative information can be used de-risk the licensing process and, with a greater mechanistic understanding at demonstration scales, its predictive power could reduce the monitoring required at commercial sites.
Exploitation Route The platform design, algorithm development, and analysis techniques can be applied to other marine renewable energy sites or devices. Research outputs from the FLOWBEC-4D project are now being used to inform the environmental monitoring programme for MeyGen, one of the world's first tidal turbine arrays, currently being constructed in the Pentland Firth Inner Sound, Scotland. Collaborative instrument development is also underway with colleagues at the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center (USA).
The research findings can also be used for comparisons between marine renewable energy sites, to investigate requirements for site-specific monitoring or any generalities which may facilitate generic environmental monitoring programmes. A comparison between Admiralty Inlet (USA), Fall of Warness (UK) and Pentland Firth Inner Sound (UK) is currently underway.
Sectors Energy,Environment

URL http://noc.ac.uk/project/flowbec
 
Description Research outputs from the FLOWBEC-4D project are now being used to inform the environmental monitoring programme for MeyGen, one of the world's first tidal turbine arrays, currently being constructed in the Pentland Firth Inner Sound, Scotland.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Energy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Policy & public services

 
Description DEFRA Workshop: Foresight Future of the sea
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
 
Description Material used in Invited presentation to European Marine Board
Geographic Reach Europe 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
 
Description Future work and Funding resulting from the research
Amount £332,412 (GBP)
Funding ID FLOWBEC NE/J004332/1 and RESPONSE NE/J004340/1 
Organisation Research Councils UK (RCUK) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2011 
End 09/2014
 
Description Innovation
Amount £99,356 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/N01765X/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2016 
End 03/2018
 
Description Knowledge Transfer Partnership
Amount £191,488 (GBP)
Organisation Innovate UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2015 
End 01/2017
 
Description Research Grant, Standard Research
Amount £1,166,390 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/K012851/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2014 
End 02/2017
 
Description Supergen ORE hub 2018
Amount £5,097,482 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/S000747/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2018 
End 06/2022
 
Title FLOWBEC Platform 
Description The FLOWBEC-4D (Flow, Water column & Benthic Ecology 4D) project developed a seabed instrument platform to investigate the environmental and ecological effects of installing and operating wave and tidal energy devices. The FLOWBEC platform combined several instruments to track the behaviour, distribution, depth preference and interactions of birds, fish schools and marine mammals with marine renewable energy devices to reveal how animals forage within dynamic marine habitats and whether individuals face collision risks. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2013 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The platform design, algorithm development, and analysis techniques can be applied to other marine renewable energy sites or devices. Research outputs from the FLOWBEC-4D project are now being used to inform the environmental monitoring programme for MeyGen, one of the world's first tidal turbine arrays, currently being constructed in the Pentland Firth Inner Sound, Scotland. Collaborative instrument development is also underway with colleagues at the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center (USA). 
URL http://noc.ac.uk/project/flowbec
 
Description "MARRiAgE: MArine Renewables Research Accelerator tEam" 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Material used in workshop run by The Marine Alliance for Science and Technology Scotland (MASTS) Marine Renewable Energy Forum and Offshore Renewables Joint Industry Programme (ORJIP) for Ocean Energy . Purpose to discuss how to fix the broke process of funding fundamental research for environmental impacts of marine renewables. Impact - it launched and produced the funding for Development of an ORE environmental R&D strategy for Scotland
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description 2015 Oxford Tidal Energy Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The Oxford Tidal Energy Workshop provides opportunities for scientists, engineers, and researchers to discuss technical issues in tidal stream power generation.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.eng.ox.ac.uk/tidal/ote2015
 
Description Annex IV Experts' Forum on Environmental Monitoring of Tidal/Hydrokinetic Turbines and Arrays 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact As the first tidal turbine arrays are coming online, the opportunity to monitor environmental
interactions and reduce uncertainty around key impacts is of increasing significance.
To date, environmental monitoring methods have been wide ranging and have varied in success,
often reflecting budget availability and operational restrictions around test deployments. There are
however a number of projects that are now installed and operating around the world which have
comprehensive, integrated environmental monitoring programs focused on reducing uncertainty
and risk.
This provides a unique opportunity for strategic collaboration across projects and jurisdictions to
help identify and solve common challenges associated with environmental monitoring and to ensure
that the maximum value can be gained from the data gathered from these initial deployments and
arrays.
Annex IV and the Offshore Renewables Joint Industry Programme for Ocean Energy (ORJIP OE) are
pleased to invite you to an Expert Forum on Environmental Monitoring of Tidal Turbines and
Arrays. We believe that this could grow into an ongoing work group on monitoring to help share
techniques, face off for the ongoing challenges, learn from one another, and create a long-term
platform for knowledge transfer and problem solving.
This forum is planned to introduce the teams currently involved in environmental monitoring around
operational tidal turbines and arrays, as well as those that have completed monitoring surveys. It is
hoped that discussions in this initial expert forum will identify areas that warrant further discussion
in subsequent forum meetings. The forum will be one hour with participants introducing themselves
and their work followed by an open discussion.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://tethys.pnnl.gov/events/expert-forum-environmental-monitoring-around-turbines
 
Description FLOWBEC Web Site 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Web site for FLOWBEC project

http://noc.ac.uk/project/flowbec

Increase in interest from researchers around the world
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://noc.ac.uk/project/flowbec
 
Description FLOWBEC: Long-term measurements of the environment around marine renewable energy devices. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact University of Aberdeen Institute of Energy Industry Meet Event,

Interest from Energy Companies in our research
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://www.abdn.ac.uk/aie/index.php
 
Description ICOE 2016 Annex IV Collision Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The aim of this workshop is to identify the key challenges within the consenting process regarding collision risk for marine wildlife with tidal turbines and to produce a coordinated action plan, providing a framework to help reduce risk and uncertainty for developers and regulators
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description MASTS 2015 ASM - MRE Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact A Marine Renewables Workshop at the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland - Annual Science Meeting, titled 'Issues and opportunities at the interface between engineering and ecology in offshore and marine renewables'.

The deployment of offshore and marine renewables has sparked a wide range research studies on how they might impact marine processes and life in coastal seas. However, the natural environment and organisms within it can also have impacts on the engineered structures and power take-off potential. These impacts can derive from a wide variety of means ranging from reduced efficiency of moving parts by fouling, through to large animals colliding with and potentially damaging components. Engineering and ecological interactions will also drive the constraints in the level of resource (wind, waves or tidal-streams) available for exploitation. As the renewables sector moves from proof of concepts to site specific realities, then these physical and biological processes will become ever more important. This workshop will bring together engineers, physicists, environmental scientists, developers and regulators to develop mutual understandings of these interactions and explore ways to mitigate challenges and optimise opportunities in this emerging and potentially rewarding topic area. A mixed audience of specialists and non-specialists from different disciplines, including developers and regulators to encourage cross disciplinary understanding and stimulate discussion. A brief report of the workshop will be compiled, capturing key discussion points, highlighting knowledge gaps and identifying potential opportunities for cross disciplinary work to contribute to the development of the sector.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description MASTS/ORJIP/VertlBase Science Translation Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact MASTS/ORJIP/VertlBase Science Translation Workshop.

This is a focused workshop with a selected group of invited participants from UK Research Councils, Industry,
European and UK Government Advisors & Regulators, Enterprise and Researchers and is the follow on of the
MASTS/ORJIP workshop held in Glasgow, Oct 18, 2016

The aim of this second workshop is 2 fold:

The 1st Aim is entitled Science translation for Industry/Regulators/Funders/Public: How best should the
science communities be presenting new information? Active researchers from the VertlBase project (and more) will
provide brief overviews of current results as examples of science translation. Facilitated and open discussion will be
used to produce agreed methods, and processes to improve science translation between science providers, science
funders and science users.

The 2nd AIM is entitled: Making it Happen: Environmental related research from identification, though
funding to translation to industry and policy. There will be updates from Industry, Funders and advances in the
process of the development of an ORE environmental R&D strategy for the UK. Facilitated worked examples from
multi-disciplinary research identification, to successful funding, through to translation of science will provide the
ingredients for open debate across sectors on the best way forward to implement processes.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Marine renewable energy extraction, climate change and trophic linkages: What do we need to understand? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact When we start putting in hundreds of marine renewable devices in large arrays of areas of >10 km2, then we will start to change something fundamental in the marine environment: the level of physical mixing. The marine environment is less variable, more predictable than the terrestrial environment and hence most marine species rely on the predictability of daily, biweekly and seasonal currents and local levels of mixing to drive their foraging and reproducing behaviours. In order to safely design and deploy large renewable developments we need to understand how mobile predators, fish, seabirds and mammals use the predictability of ocean environments to successfully forage. To understand the ecological effects of marine renewable developments we must shift the focus of research form the distributions of species onto a more fundamentally mechanistic and hypothesis driven understanding of reasons for specific areas of high foraging activity.



This talk will cover 3 main issues, using data from our empirical and modelling research, to explore the effects of renewable energy extraction influencing mobile predator foraging: 1) identifying reasons for locations of, and the potential mechanisms producing predictable foraging areas, 2) the knowledge gained on foraging habitat use by understanding the limits of foraging energy expenditure and 3) the need to explore in detail underwater foraging behaviour. The presentation will cover new surveys techniques including the collection of continuous data over a full spring-neap cycle via a combination of two upward facing sonar systems: multi-frequency and multibeam devices. These systems collected data on diving seabirds, fish species and turbulence, imaging a full `acoustic curtain' along the tidal flow in a highly challenging environment from a seabed frame placed within 25 m of an OpenHydro tidal turbine structure at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) tidal test site in Scotland, UK.

An invited tour of University of Washington, USA, University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC, Canada and Institute of Ocean Sciences, Victoria, BC, Canada. Oral presentations and talks/workshops with academics and post-graduat
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Material used in Invited Seminar National Oceanographic Centre, Liverpool 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Seminar on Oceans as Habitats: What changes will matter the most to pelagic habitats and mobile animals? Led to offers of collaboration on NERC projects.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description NERC JUNE WORKSHOP Challenges and opportunities renewable energy event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Purpose to engage NERC Strategic groups and politicians about possible best routes / issues to consider to fund for strategic solution to multiple and sustainable use of marine renewable energy
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description OERA Environmental Effects Monitoring Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Environmental Effects Monitoring organised by the Offshore Energy Research Association (OERA), Halifax, N.S. The objective of the EEM Workshop is to guide OERA in updating its tidal energy research priorities and identify effective approaches to address outstanding knowledge gaps over the short, medium and long terms. The event also fostered developing collaborative networks with industry, regulators and academia internationally.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Ocean Business 2015 Special Session on MRE 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact NERC Special Session on Marine Renewable Energy - Update on technology and tools to de risk and streamline development. Exploitation of wave, wind and tidal resources for energy generation requires a good understanding of the resources, and it has been necessary to adapt and develop existing technologies to achieve this at different scales. Equally, it is essential to characterise environmental receptors across all wildlife groups and to capture adequate baseline information for Environmental Impact Assessment and post deployment monitoring. This session reviewed the contribution of the NERC - DEFRA funded research and knowledge exchange programmes to development of novel technology, tools and methods, and consider the needs for the industry going forward.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.oceanbusiness.com/associated-events/mre/
 
Description SNH Sharing Good Practice Dealing with uncertainty in the Marine Environment 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Sharing Good Practice Dealing with uncertainty in the Marine Environment - a range of short interactive sessions (and repeat) sessions to explain the potential routes to assessing the impact of renewable developments to industry, NGOs, and other academic disciplines. There were subsequent invites to give this overview to JNCC personal.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description SNH Uncertainty in the Marine Environment 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact SNH/MS/JNCC Sharing Good Practice Event - Dealing with uncertainty in the marine environment: assessing impacts of renewables development to promote and discuss specific areas of guidance, good practice, experience or research relevant to the marine renewables sector. These sessions were structured to allow questioning and dialogue, so as to encourage understanding and, hopefully, uptake of the methods and ideas promoted.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.snh.gov.uk/docs/A1802730.pdf