Expert Workshop Assess the Environmental Effects and Monitoring Efforts for Current Energy Systems

Hoyt Battey from the U.S. Department of Energy speaking at the Experts WorkshopThe Marine Institute is currently (Monday 27th and Tuesday 28th September 2010) hosting an International Energy Agency (IEA) experts meeting organised by the US Department of Energy, in Clontarf Castle, Dublin, to discuss the environmental monitoring needs associated with the development of the marine renewable energy sector worldwide.

The “Assessment of Environmental Effects and Monitoring Efforts for Ocean, Wave, Tidal and Current Energy Systems – Expert Workshop” aims to review the collection, organisation and analysis of data relating to the potential effects of wave / tidal energy generation causes to the marine environment.  There will be 60 specialist scientists, engineers and technicians attending from member states representing Norway, Sweden, UK, Spain, Ireland, USA, Canada and Portugal.

Discussions will centre on characterising the environmental effects of wave energy devices including the development of monitoring and mitigation strategies and identifying data sets for knowledge management and collating associated materials from case studies.

The following four leading companies will give the case studies during the workshop on:

• Tidal Energy Developments – Open Hydro
• Wave Energy development – Aquamarine
• Environmental Management in Ocean Energy programme – Vattenfall
• Exercise in Adaptive Management – SeaGen

This international workshop comes at an opportune time with the announcement on the 22nd September by Minister Ryan of a $2.4 million grant award from the US Department of Energy to the Irish wave energy company Wavebob, which signals a strong commitment to the emergent ocean energy sector in Ireland. Another Irish company – Open Hydro and its advanced tidal technology - will also benefit from the Department of Energy’s funding as the chosen technology for a $20m project led by a west coast utility.

The identification, monitoring and mitigation of environmental impacts by wave/tidal energy devices on the marine ecosystem is an essential part of the process for development of the sector and is likely to require further research in specific areas to support policy decisions and ensure that good environment status of ocean energy generation sites are maintained or enhanced.

Key industry players in the development of the sector include Vattenfall Research and Development (Sweden), Tonn Energy (Ireland), Open Hydro (UK), AZTI-Tecnalia (Spain) and IBM (Ireland) amongst others.

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) funds the Irish involvement in the Environmental Working Group as part of its participation in the IEA Ocean Energy Systems Implementing Agreement, the Executive Committee for which meets in Dublin on Thursday 30th September and Friday 1st October.