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

Lead Research Organisation: Scottish Association For Marine Science
Department Name: Scottish Association For Marine Science


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 desing feedback process which can protect and perhaps enhance the natural environment, which 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 desing, 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 will which support a radical form of proactive resource assessment, in which energy production and ecological benefits can be maximised will provide enhanced input to th eplanning 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. Bythe completion of the EBAO funding, the principles will be able to be 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 th eproject 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 Consideration of the implications of different tidal turbine array configurations on the marine mammal collision issue. A route to better consider how turbine noise would impact dolphins navigating through an array is proposed..
Exploitation Route This project has gone on to live in several EPSRC follow-on's eg Terrawatt and Ecowatt.
Sectors Energy

URL https://tethys.pnnl.gov/sites/default/files/publications/EBAO-Report-2015.pdf
Description The results have been viewed by policymakers in terms of future roll out of marine renewables. However the sector has not yet progressed to a sufficient stage for the lessons learnt to be applicable - ie industry in UK is currently stalled
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Energy
Impact Types Policy & public services