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 Societys 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.
Becky Allen | alfa
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