Marine Renewable Energy
The burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas produces a large amount of the carbon released into the atmosphere by man. The UK has committed itself to reducing the amount of carbon being released in to the atmosphere by 80% by 2050. The harvesting of renewable energy resources will help to reduce emissions of carbon from burning fossil fuels and also contribute to a secure supply of energy for the UK.
The seas around the UK have the potential to provide a large amount of renewable energy from three main sources:
The large tidal resources around the coast can be used to make electricity in two ways. The first, called tidal stream, uses the large current speeds that can occur in narrow channels and off headlands. The second is through the change in tide height, and this is called tidal range.
The movement of air across the Earth’s source is a large source of kinetic energy, which has been harnessed by windmills for many centuries and nowadays by modern wind turbines. Wind energy is an important part of the renewable energy strategy of the UK and Europe. Offshore wind turbines can generate up to 25% more energy than their onshore counterparts, since the wind blows faster over the sea than over land.
The large waves that are found off the UK coast can be used to generate electricity. There are numerous different technologies being developed and tested both in the UK and internationally. The first major wave energy harvesting installations are expected to be built in Scotland over the next few years.
NOC hosts the Marine Renewable Energy Knowledge Exchange Programme for NERC. This is a four year programme running from 2011 to 2015 with the purpose of increasing the impact of NERC funded science in the marine renewable energy sector.
NERC/DEFRA Funded Marine Renewable Energy Projects
During late 2011, and following a funding sandpit in December 2010, four research projects aligned with NERC's Theme Action Plan Phase 2, 'Sustainable Use of Natural Resources' theme were co-funded by NERC and DEFRA.
The four funded projects started between September 2011– January 2012 and are:
FLOWBEC - (Lead: Paul Bell, NOC) - to identify the physical conditions influencing the behaviour of fish and their predators and also benthic communities by concurrently measuring hydrodynamics and biology at 3 different wet marine renewable energy test sites.
RESPONSE – (Lead: Dave Thompson, SMRU) - Understanding how marine renewable device operation influences fine scale habitat use and behaviour of marine vertebrates
EBAO – (Lead: Ian Bryden, U.Edinburgh) - Optimising array form for energy extraction and environmental benefit
QBEX – (Lead: David Sims , MBA) - Quantifying benefits and impacts of fishing exclusion zones around marine renewable energy installations