April 2018

Gearing up for marine renewable conference

Liz Foubister

Liz Foubister

This year’s Environmental Interactions of Marine Renewable Energy Technologies (EIMR) conference in Orkney should be very interesting as it is an exciting time for the sector and the region. Marine renewable devices are now getting deployed in the region, including the world’s flagship tidal stream array project, MeyGen, which we have been heavily involved with.

I am giving a presentation on the third morning of the conference on Monitoring the environmental interactions of tidal devices – how do we achieve what is required in a practical and cost-effective manner whilst retaining focus on the key issues to assist the consenting of future projects?’

The tidal industry is still in its infancy; numerous designs of devices are being tested at sea to prove the technology, and there has been some deployment of early small-scale arrays.  The consents issued for these early deployments have included conditions that require the monitoring of environmental effects.

My presentation will draw on developer specific experience to provide an overview of:

-              The scope of the environmental impact monitoring that is required by consent conditions

-              Practicalities of the monitoring techniques developed / deployed to date

-              The value this early monitoring is likely to have to the consenting of future projects

I’ll be sharing my views on what can be learnt from this early environmental impact monitoring. Not only with regards to the impacts associated with the use of tidal technology, but perhaps more importantly, what is an appropriate monitoring plan for a tidal project? What should project developers be expected to take responsibility for and what should be left to the wider research community?  And critically, how do the regulators and their advisors make best use of lessons learnt to date?

I’ll also be part of a panel discussion on the Thursday afternoon around perspectives on consenting a project. The session is being chaired by Andrea Copping from the US Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the panel consists of seven members of the community who have interests around marine energy developments, including developers, regulators, advisors, researchers and consultants.

The panel will seek to gather a greater understanding of the multiple players in the marine energy development space, the strength of the opinions, enthusiasms and concerns over past developments and likely future acceleration of marine energy deployments.

From this, we will seek to better understand where synergies and any potential conflicting perspectives might lie and to find consensus on how to proceed with marine energy development to satisfy the needs and manage the expectations of the various stakeholders.

Hope to see you there.


Led by the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) and Heriot Watt University (HW), Environmental Interactions of Marine Renewable Energy Technologies (EIMR) is an international conference hosted at different sites across the Scottish Highlands and Islands region. The conference will explore the interactions of wave and tidal energy technologies with the environment. The conference is being held in Orkney from 24th–27th April.

Gearing up for marine renewable conference