Scottish Wave, Tidal Research Project Gets GBP 1 Mln

Funding of more than £1 million has been awarded to a Scottish-based project that will help to determine the limits to tidal and wave energy extraction before potential environmental and ecological impacts occur.

Scottish Wave, Tidal Research Project Gets GBP 1 Mln

The three year EcoWatt2050 project, is coordinated by the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS) and funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). It will use computer models developed in an earlier TeraWatt study to simulate the effects of extracting energy using wave and tidal renewable energy devices on the marine environment.

Led by Heriot Watt University, in partnership with the Universities of Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Strathclyde, Swansea, the Highlands and Islands, the National Oceanography Centre and Marine Scotland Science, EcoWatt2050 will provide a vital tool for addressing questions posed by the licensing authorities and decision makers about the potential siting of large scale marine renewable energy arrays.

Professor Jon Side, of Heriot Watt University’s Orkney Campus, said: “Scotland’s seas offer great potential for wave and tidal energy production, and Scotland is at the forefront of the development of marine renewable technologies and ocean energy exploitation, but it’s important that in the move to renewable energy we take care to avoid developments which might harm our marine eco-systems.”

“Building on our earlier work in the TeraWatt project, EcoWatt2050 will offer decision-makers a clear indication of the extent of wave and tidal development possible in Scottish seas before significant ecological effects could occur. It will examine ways in which the deployment of multiple large scale wave and tidal energy arrays can be planned and arranged so as to minimise environmental impacts and offset effects of climate change. In short we are trying to determine ways in which marine spatial planning and policy development can enable the maximum level of marine energy extraction, while minimizing environmental impacts.”

Professor David Paterson, MASTS Executive Director, added: “The EcoWatt2050 project is an excellent example of what the Scottish marine research community can achieve by working in partnership and drawing in specialist researchers. It is vital to assess in advance the environmental limits to wave and tidal energy extraction from the sea. EcoWatt2050 builds on the earlier MASTS partnership of the TeraWatt project and will use the Pentland Firth and the waters around Orkney to develop models which will predict the physical and ecological consequences of wave and tidal energy extraction and the corresponding limits to large scale development. The project represents another important step forward in Scotland’s ambition to become a world leader in renewables technology development.” 

Press release, July 16, 2014; Image: MASTS