The Environmental Impact Assessment of marine renewable energy devices is dependent on both the environmental sensitivity of the site and the projects design/characteristics. When compared to terrestrial, the marine environment is much less knownand thus little information is available regarding environmental impacts of wave and offshore wind technologies.
Since its foundation WavEC has been acquiring competences on the identification, monitoring and analysis of the environmental effects of marine renewable energy, taking into account both negative and positive interactions. These also include the socio economic aspects namely those related with community engagement and acceptance of marine renewable energy developments.
The team has been involved in several research and development projects exclusively or partially dedicated to the environmental issues of marine renewable energy.
Many marine organisms use sound for a variety of purposes, e.g. to communicate, to identify prey and to navigate (short and long-range navigation). Man-made noise can potentially affect marine organisms in various ways and, therefore, the underwater noise assessment is a major factor in the Environmental Impact Assessment of renewable energy developments.
The WavEC team expertise on acoustic monitoring programs covers field noise measurements, data processing and analysis. Noise levels and impact zone mapping are the final outputs of the analysis. Noise measurements are carried out with digital hydrophones, an autonomous recording device, which allows the noise recording over a long period of time in a frequency ranging up to 50 kHz, thus covering most of the man-made noise frequencies.
WavEC team has carried out a number of acoustic monitoring programs and research studies such as WEAM (Wave Energy Acoustic Monitoring project, SURGE (Waveroller technology development in Peniche), and is doing the acoustic monitoring of the WindFloat project installed in Aguçadora (North of Portugal), and of the Waveport Project in Santander, Spain.
Marine habitat characterisation
In the summer of 2012 WavEC acquired an observational class ROV. The ROV has the ability to operate in virtually any marine environment and retrieve images in depths down to 100m. It has two cameras onboard. Additionally a one function grabber and a laser scaling system have been installed allowing for simple underwater operations (grab samples, cut cables etc) and to scale the images obtained respectively. This allows for a broader range of ROV applications which include biological surveys such as the evaluation of colonisation patterns on the seabed or on artificial structures like the devices submerged structures, sample collection and studies of species composition and abundance.
The team has been also involved in marine mammals surveys, around marine renewable technologies through visual observations along defined transects from boat.
- Visual/structural inspections (i.e. WEC devices, cables, moorings)
- Biological surveys (i.e. colonization patterns, sample collection, animal density)
- Simple interventions at depth
- Retrieval of moored instruments
Development of Geographic Information Systems
The WavEC’s marine environment team is able to develop a range of integrated mapping products and spatial analysis on marine habitats and marine physical, chemical and biological parameters distribution.
Environmental impact assessment and research
The marine environment team has rendered services to international entities like the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in USA, for the development of an environmental effects database in the context of the OES Annex IV. Services have been also rendered to several companies on the state of the art of the Environmental Impact Assessment procedures and methodologies.
DEMOWFLOAT (With technology team)
KIC 1 (With technology team)
TROPOS (With technology and economy team)
WAVEPORT (With technology team)