UK scientists will measure the effect on the marine environment and wildlife of devices that harness tide and wave energy using sonar technology that has, for the first time, been successfully deployed on the seabed.
Renewable energy from tidal currents can be generated using turbines in the tidal flow, and wave energy can be captured in a number of different ways. FLOWBEC (Flow and Benthic Ecology 4D) is a three-year, 1.2 million project that brings together a consortium of researchers to investigate the effects of such devices by monitoring environment and wildlife behaviour at UK test sites, the first of which is the tidal energy test area of the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney.
FLOWBEC is a National Oceanography Centre (NOC)-led project, which is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council and Defra (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs). It brings together scientists from the Universities of Aberdeen, Bath, Edinburgh, Exeter, Plymouth, Queens University Belfast, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Marine Scotland Science, the British Oceanographic Data Centre, EMEC, and one of the world's leading tidal turbine developers, OpenHydro Ltd.
The researchers from the Universities of Bath and Aberdeen, together with the expert acoustic and technical teams at Marine Scotland Science, have combined two state-of-the-art sonar systems on a seabed frame placed within 25-metres of an OpenHydro structure. This monitors fish and diving seabirds that pass through or feed within the location; in particular, the study is assessing how fish and seabirds interact with the installation.
For the first time these sonars - which are normally mounted on a ship as separate units looking down at the seabed - have been adapted to operate autonomously in combination for several weeks, while facing upwards. Collecting the data in this way allows imaging of a full `acoustic curtain' along the tidal flow and around the turbine in a highly
|Contact: Mike Douglas|
National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (UK)