Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Ecology must be part of research on renewable energy

11.08.2005


Too little of the research being done on renewable energy options is taking potential ecological implications into account, a major new review of the ecological implications of offshore renewable energy published in the British Ecological Society’s Journal of Applied Ecology has found.



The review by Dr Andrew Gill of Cranfield University found that despite an explosion of academic interest in the subject - almost 400 papers on renewable energy were published in peer-reviewed journals in 2003, compared with fewer than 35 in any year before 1991 - only a fraction of the papers looked at environmental impact, either positive or negative. “Less than 1% of the articles considered the potential environmental risks of renewable energy exploitation and none was specifically related to coastal ecology. Ecological factors are not being considered properly and are under-represented in any discussion of the costs and benefits of adopting offshore renewable energy sources,” Dr Gill says.

Climate change and rising fossil fuel prices are driving interest in developing renewable energy sources, including offshore renewable energy. Northern Europe leads the world in offshore renewable energy developments (ORED) in coastal waters where many human pressures already exist. While offshore developments may attract less opposition from communities concerned about their aesthetic impact, they are likely to have a range of direct and indirect environmental effects.


According to Dr Gill: “Construction and decommissioning are likely to cause significant physical disturbance to the local environment. During day-to-day operation, underwater noise, emission of electromagnetic fields and collision or avoidance with the energy structures represent further potential impacts on coastal species, particularly large predators.” Any such environmental effects need to be considered in addition to the existing pressure exerted on our coasts.

In the absence of published studies on the ecological impacts of building ORED, Dr Gill looked at studies on the impact of fishing and marine dredging on benthic habitats. “Assuming fishing- and dredging-related disturbance to be analogous to construction and decommissioning of an ORED, local loss of sedentary infauna and reef builders would be expected, while non-sedentary marine benthos would be displaced,” Dr Gill says.

Also as yet uninvestigated is the potential impact of noise and electromagnetic fields from ORED on coastal animals. According to Dr Gill: “Underwater, where a large number of species interact acoustically, the potential for disturbance from long-term ORED operation is high. Sound is used for communication, finding prey and potential mates, and avoiding predators. The high voltage alternating and direct current cables that transmit power between devices and the mainland also have the potential to interact with aquatic animals that are sensitive to electromagnetic fields. This affects mainly fish, particularly sharks and rays, and marine mammals that use the Earth’s magnetic field to navigate.”

However, ORED could also represent an environmental enhancement by increasing the opportunity for benthic species, enhancing survival and growth, creating new food opportunities and refuge for juveniles, and recycling of local energy.

The important message of this review is that our current lack of knowledge means we do not know which effects, if any, could benefit or harm our coastal ecosystem. But it is imperative that this ecological knowledge gap be plugged, Dr Gill says: “The stability of coastal ecosystems worldwide is under threat, hence ORED must be planned appropriately to protect the ecosystem from further degradation, and to enhance it wherever possible, and ecologists must play a fundamental role in this process.”

Becky Allen | alfa
Further information:
http://www.britishecologicalsociety.org.

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

nachricht World Water Day 2017: It doesn’t Always Have to Be Drinking Water – Using Wastewater as a Resource
17.03.2017 | ISOE - Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>