Tidal and wave energy are a potentially useful energy resource to the UK and around the world. They will reduce CO2 emission compared to fossil fuels and reduce the environmental impact of our energy use. But will using these energy source affect the environment in other ways? How do we measure environmental impact on something that hasn’t even been built yet? We can answer these questions using numerical models of marine energy devices and look at how they change the physical characteristics of the seas in the area. We can then try and link that to ecological changes. We finally then have to decide if this is a “big” impact or a negligible impact. How do we do this? Again, modelling can help by simulating various scenarios, such as sea level rise or large storms.
Below are some images of simulations done in the Pentland Firth, Scotland on the impact of placing 400 tidal turbines in the channel. We use the latest multiscale modelling technology enabling us to simulate a large portion of the continental shelf, whilst still resolving individual turbines.