STUDY - Мarine energy devices do not affect wildlife in the long term
Wildlife observations at EMEC test site. Source: EMEC
Operating wave and tidal energy devices at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Scotland do not cause lasting disturbances and displacement of birds and marine mammals living in the area.
A study of wildlife observations collected over 10 years around test sites in Orkney suggests that there is a change in density and redistribution of some bird species only during construction due to the increased boat activity. In nearly all cases, numbers return to around previous levels once the turbines are installed. This is indicated by statistical analysis of around 10,000 hours of observations at the Fall of Warness tidal test site off Eday.
Observations of seals, whales and dolphins revealed similar findings.
At the same time, some 6,500 hours of observations at the Billia Croo wave test site near Stromness revealed no significant changes at all.
The report, published by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), takes into consideration a detailed analysis by SNH, Marine Scotland and EMEC.
George Lees, marine energy manager at SNH, noted that possible wildlife interactions with turbines below the surface are not included in the research because the observations were made from land. “Even so, these initial results are reassuring and show that the deployment and testing of multiple wave and tidal energy converters in the seas off Orkney over more than a decade has not had a significant impact on the diverse and abundant wildlife living there,” he added.