Lead Research Organisation: Plymouth Marine Laboratory
Department Name: Remote Sensing Group


Industries such as nuclear power stations and desalination plants bring in huge volumes of sea water for cooling or processing. This makes them vulnerable to 'severe marine ingress events' where seaweed, jellyfish or even schooling fish block intake and cause plant shutdown. For nuclear power plants, the financial implications of these shutdowns can run into millions of pounds per incident. EDF Energy, the client for this scoping project, has identified their inability to predict such events as an increasingly significant problem. Indeed, under climate change pressures, any increases in severe marine ingress events will not only compound cumulative financial loss, but also reduce energy availability to the national grid. EDF Energy and other industries relying on seawater intake currently have no methods in place to predict blockages from marine sources and must operate reactively rather than proactively. With over 100 recorded severe intake events at EDF stations across the UK and France over the past 10 years, this inability to predict events has proved to be ineffectual at preventing shutdowns and mitigating the associated financial losses.

The objective of this project is to investigate the potential for a time series of satellite images showing sea-surface temperature and the colour of the sea to investigate the conditions that occur during sever ingress events. EDF Group will provide data on historic ingress events at coastal nuclear power stations in the UK and France

The project will also use fishing vessel location data, in a similar manner to GPS data, to locate the fishing fleet and compare with known ingress events.

The ultimate aim is to provide an early warning system for severe marine ingress (seaweed, jellyfish and fish) events at EDF Group's coastal power stations in the UK and France.

Planned Impact

The objective of this project is to investigate the potential for Earth observation data to provide an early warning system for severe marine ingress (seaweed, jellyfish and fish) events at EDF Energy Nuclear Generation's power stations in the UK and France. If successful, an early warning system could save the current customer (EDF Energy NG) tens of millions of pounds in lost generation, but the market for such a product would extend to many other organisations, including other electricity generation companies, desalination plants, and fish farms around the world.


10 25 50
Description EO data can in some circumstances give information on clogging events
Exploitation Route A starting point for subsequent studies
Sectors Energy

Description NERC Innovation
Amount £153,000 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/R014965/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2019 
End 06/2020
Description EDF Energy 
Organisation EDF Energy
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution PML and ClearSeas attempted to solve a problem of major concern to EDF Energy regarding clogging or inlets for cooling of nuclera powerstations at the coast.
Collaborator Contribution EDF Energy provide information on the UK and French fleets on clogging events
Impact FInal presentation to EDF Energy showed some evidence of where EO could be used to assist with avoinding clogging.
Start Year 2016