Marine Renewable Energy Directed KE Fellowship: Biofouling in the UK Marine Renewable Energy Industry

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Sch of Geosciences

Abstract

When man-made structures, such as marine renewable energy devices, are deployed in the sea they are quickly colonised by communities of organisms growing on exposed surfaces. This marine growth, or biofouling, is often unwanted from an engineering perspective and can have consequences for structural integrity, efficiency, maintenance and functioning of devices. Non-native species are also commonly found on man-made structures, making biofouling a potential biosecurity risk and a possible vector for species invasions.

Factors such as the type of species in the biofouling community, the geographical location and the seasonality of organism settlement and growth lead to a high degree of variability in biofouling properties such as mass, thickness and texture. At the moment marine renewable energy SME's conduct most of their design, efficiency calculations and maintenance planning based on very basic figures for biofouling thickness which do not take into account variability. Technical standards acknowledge the limitations of existing guidance and recommend that whenever possible, site-specific measurements should be used. Unfortunately, due to the newness of the industry, this data is often not available and SMEs and engineers are working with little more than a "best guess" when calculating for the effects of marine growth on devices.

Jen Loxton recently co-hosted a workshop which discussed biofouling on marine renewable energy devices with attendees spanning academia, regulatory bodies, and industry. Together this group identified 119 issues associated with biofouling with operational, financial or environmental impacts. A key priority which was identified to help solve many of these issues was improved knowledge exchange between science, engineering and marine industry. It was acknowledged that there is a lot of biofouling knowledge in the scientific and industrial communities but there is currently no pathway for getting this to the right people to inform renewable energy device design and maintenance decisions. It is this gap in communication which Jen aims to address in this KE project.

During the fellowship Jen will develop and launch a comprehensive online resource which will consolidate biofouling science in an accessible and industry relevant format for the UK marine renewable energy community. This resource will consist of:

- A website of biofouling knowledge, translated for industry
- An interactive tool/app powered by a database of UK biofouling distribution and characteristics

The website will provide a biofouling "one-stop-shop" for stakeholders associated with the UK marine renewable energy industry and help to inform engineering and operational decisions and increase awareness of potential environmental considerations. It is anticipated that it will increase the reach and impact of biofouling science.

A comprehensive database will be populated with biofouling science and species distribution data and will power the interactive tool/app. A user would specify location, deployment type and available observations of biofouling and the tool will generate a tailored suite of industrially relevant statistics and possible management techniques. Full specifications for the tool will be determined during the fellowship but examples of possible outputs include maximum biomass, thickness and rugosity of fouling, expected seasonal variations and known non-native species in the vicinity. The database will continue to grow during the life of the fellowship and beyond through live links with UK databases (e.g. NBN gateway) and the addition of user specified biofouling observations.

Information for the fellowship will be gathered from academia, regulatory bodies and from across the maritime industries, including oil & gas, shipping, leisure boating and the aquaculture industries. The fellow will include data from previous NERC projects (e.g. EBAO and FlowBec), expanding the impact of this research.

Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
NE/P006566/1 03/10/2016 30/09/2017 £199,718
NE/P006566/2 Transfer NE/P006566/1 01/10/2017 02/10/2020 £145,113
 
Description Leverhulme Trust - Research Project Grant
Amount £59,157 (GBP)
Funding ID RPG-2019-161 
Organisation The Leverhulme Trust 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2019 
End 08/2021
 
Description Advisor for Elizabeth Mills, PhD Student and the University of Dundee 
Organisation University of Dundee
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Since early 2018 I have been an advisor for Elizabeth Mills, a PhD student at the University of Dundee. The PhD pertains to designing concrete which is less hospitable to invasive species for the use in harbour walls and other industrial applications. My contribution is advisory and practical. I have conducted fieldwork with Elizabeth on a number of occasions and offer advice on experimental design.
Collaborator Contribution My partners at the University of Dundee provide engineering guidance and support to help develop new materials for testing.
Impact none as yet
Start Year 2018
 
Description Leverhulme grant proposal: Engineering harbour surfaces to limit colonisation by invasive species 
Organisation University of Dundee
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I am co-PI on the above grant proposal which is being led by the University of Dundee. The project is an engineering and marine biology collaboration to see if harbour walls could be made less colonised by invasive species.
Collaborator Contribution The project was initially proposed by the University of Dundee, first through a PhD which I am acting as an advisor on. This project is an extension of that PhD.
Impact Initial outline proposal. We have subsequently been asked to submit a full proposal. The project is multi-disciplinary between engineering and marine biology.
Start Year 2018
 
Description @jenloxton twitter account 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Maintenance of. twitter account with 564 followers. @jenloxton. Numbers correct on 25th Feb 2019.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018,2019
 
Description Attendance at All Energy - Glasgow 2019 
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 Attendance at All Energy 2019 in Glasgow 15th-16th May 2019. The opportunity to learn about the most current developments within the industry and to talk to industrial partners about their biofouling experiences.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.all-energy.co.uk/Conference/2019-conference-programme/#
 
Description Attendance at EWTEC 2019 
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 Attendance at EWTEC 2019. Attendance at relevant talks and networking with scientific peers, industry and government agencies.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://ewtec.org/conferences/ewtec-2019/
 
Description Attendance at eh NERC in Scotland event at the Scottish parliament 
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 I was requested to attend the NERC in Scotland event at the Scottish parliament where I represented my field of research to attendees and helped to embody the range of projects being conducted through NERC across Scotland.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Attendee and facilitator at NERC Design for Decommissioning workshop (Edinburgh) 
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 I attended this workshop as an attendee and also was a facilitator for the round table discussions, presenting back ideas and findings to the rest of the workshop group. I represented a marine renewable energy perspective in a largely oil and gas focussed group, and also helped to highlight areas (such as marine growth monitoring) that are shared issues for both operation and maintenance stakeholders and decommissioning groups. I hope this may lead to shared research on this topic.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description BBC News article 
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 The BBC News website featured an article in advance of the showing of the BBC Landward episode which featured an interview with Jen Loxton on her biofouling research . .
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-47882493
 
Description BBC Radio Scotland Newsdrive 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact An interview on the distribution of an invasive biofouling species. This interview was conducted as a follow up to the BBC Landward broadcast on the 11th and 12th April 2019.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description BBC Radio: Good Morning Scotland interview 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact I was the sole interviewee for a 5 minute segment on Good Morning Scotland, a BBC radio show. The topic being discussed was an invasive species, its distribution in the UK and its potential to impact industry, in particular aquaculture and marine renewable energy.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description BBC Scotland news - clip 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A short clip from the BBC Landward episode was aired on all BBC Scotland news programmes for the 11th and 12th April 2020.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Collaborative research with Prof Abby Smith, Otago University 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact During a 4 day visit (6th - 9th June 2019) and collaborative working period Professor Abby Smith, Director of Oceanography at the University of Otago and I collaborated on publications and ideas for future research projects.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.otago.ac.nz/marinescience/staff/abigailsmith.html
 
Description Daily Mail news article. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact An article in the Scottish Daily mail (print) and the Daily mail (UK) on an invasive species and the risk it poses to marine industry. There was a particular focus on aquaculture but renewable energy was also mentioned.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Feature on BBC Landward 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Feature on BBC Landward 2019/2020 season, episode 2. It was aired live on the 11th and 12th April 2019 and was available on player for 30 days. Featured an approximately 5 minute feature on my invasive species/ biofouling work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m00043fq
 
Description Interview with researcher for BBC Landward TV programme 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact e-mails and telephone interview with a researcher for the BBC Landward TV programme.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description NERC Innovation Placements assessment panel 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I sat on the NERC Innovation Placements assessment panel. I was responsible for reviewing multiple proposals, pitching/presenting a few and contributing to the assessment of the remainder.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Press briefing: BBC Good Morning Scotland radio show 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Phone conversation and e-mails with researcher for BBC Good Morning Scotland with regards to an interview live on radio relating to invasive species and their potential to impact UK marine industry.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Press interview. Julia Horton for the Sunday Times 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact I was contacted by the journalist, Julia Horton, who was writing a commissioned article for the Sunday Times on the invasive bryozoan, Schizoporella japonica, based on a paper I published at the end of 2017.
We had both an e-mail and telephone interview where she gathered information, particularly in relation to the risk to industry in Scotland.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Sunday Times article 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A Sunday Times article featured in the Sunday Times online (UK-wide) and the Sunday Times Scotland (print). The subject of the article was the potential impact of an invasive species marine industry, with a particular focus on aquaculture but also mentions renewable energy.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/scottish-ports-on-alert-as-oysters-face-alien-species-invasion-q6...
 
Description Visit to the University of Dundee 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact A day long workshop at the university of Dundee, specifically staff and students from the engineering department. This involved mutual presentations of our work and backgrounds, a tour of the building, discussion of future collaborations and plans for joint publications and research. I shared information on study practices for biofouling fieldwork and spent some time in the laboratory demonstrating and discussing practical techniques. Attendees were Dr Thomas Dyer, Elizabeth Mills, Dr Laszlo Csetenyi.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description talk - PRIMaRE 6th annual conference. Modification of concrete surfaces to reduce colonisation by marine invasive species 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact A talk was given on the 3rd July 2019 by E Mills on the modification of concrete surfaces to reduce colonisation by marine invasive species. This talk was based on collaborative work with myself and I was a co-author on the talk.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://primare.events/public/conferences/1/schedConfs/3/program-en_US.pdf