Marine Current Turbines’ SeaGen tidal turbine operating in Northern Irish waters has been given the green light for its environmental impact.
According to a report by environmental consultancy Royal Haskoning, in collaboration with an independent Science Group, which includes representatives from Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Queen’s University Belfast, the Sea Mammal Research Unit and others, the SeaGen turbine has no major impact on marine life.
The 1.2 MW turbine has been operating in Northern Ireland’s Strangford Lough since 2008 but appears to have had no significant effect on the local environment.
The Environmental Monitoring Programme (EMP) found no changes in the numbers of seals or porpoises, which appear to have continued swimming past the device without ‘any concern’ – although the report indicates that they do tend to avoid the device.
Nor did the assessment find any significant change to the speed or direction of flow of the tides within Strangford Narrows.
“This is the most comprehensive study of the environmental impact of marine energy devices undertaken anywhere in the world,” says David Erwin, the chair of the SeaGen Scientific Group.
According to Frank Fortune, technical director at Royal Haskoning, the findings indicate that SeaGen will be able to continue to operate with no significant impacts on the local marine environment.
“Marine Current Turbines has proven that the power of the seas can be harnessed in harmony with marine life. The results of their work will give everyone greater confidence in realising the economic and environmental benefits that tidal and wave energy can offer,” comments Northern Ireland’s Environment Minister, Alex Attwood.
For further information:
Alstom and SSE Renewables join forces on Orkney wave farm (17-Jan)
Technology Strategy Board launches £10 million marine energy competition (17-Jan)
UK calls for international effort on marine energy (25-Nov)
Siemens takes larger stake in Marine Current Turbines (7-Nov 2011)
18 January 2012