Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The environmental impact of using wave and tidal energy

The environmental impact of wave and tidal energy is still pretty much in unknown territory, simply because these two energy sources are yet to move beyond the stage of prototype projects used for demonstration purposes and become widely deployed technologies.

The possible negative environmental effects of tidal and wave power include:
 - the frames of the turbines could lead to disruption in movement of large marine animals and ships through the channels on which the barrage is built
- construction of tidal power plant can also disrupt fish migration in the oceans, and even kill fish population when passing through the turbines.
- the possibility of noise pollution

UK is currently the global leader in developing marine energy technologies so it is really no surprise that UK has recently launched first seabed sonar that should measure the environmental effects of tidal and wave power at couple of domestic test sites.

The two state-of-the-art sonar systems will monitor fish and diving seabirds that pass through or feed within the location, with the special emphasis on how fish and seabirds interact with wave and tidal power installations.

Once deployed, marine and wave power technologies change water flow and turbulence, and scientists want to know how these changes impact marine wildlife, namely whether their environment impact is minimal or not.

These sonars will give scientists precious info on how fish and birds act around different marine renewable energy devices, and will give them an answer about the possible risk of collision between marine wildlife and installed turbines (tidal power is renewable energy that comes from tidal currents and is generated by using turbines in the tidal flow).

Tidal and wave resources have great potential to become important renewable energy sources in years to come. These two sources are predictable and this gives them an important advantage over solar and wind. However, before widely deploying wave and tidal energy technologies it is important to study their environmental impact.

The current environmental condition of our planet is anything but good and therefore only environmentally friendly energy sources should be developed further. Tidal and wave power certainly look promising from environmental point of view, but it is still too early to come up with accurate conclusions. Not without the further research.