Jul 25 2013

Environmental Effects

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Before going into great detail about the specific environmental impacts of wave surge converters, it must be understood that there is very little primary literature available for reference. These devices have not been installed commercially, do not have a long history, and the areas where there are propositions for installment have not been monitored before now 3,4 For these reasons, many of the environmental effects are expected to be similar to those seen with traditional sea based structures (e.g. harbors, fishing piers, navigational buoys, oil rigs, lighthouses, shipwrecks) and offshore wind development. There exists literature about each of these analogous structures, but answers to the specific question of how does a wave surge converter affect aquatic life and the geomorphology of the shore is still being investigated.3

The construction of any wave or tidal energy device is expected to have impacts by potentially altering natural suspended sedimentation amounts, wave power, tidal range, electromagnetic fields, and noise production.3 In most cases these effects are not expected to cause any damage to the environment or aquatic life, but the potential for severe negative consequences means that it is a responsibility of wave and tidal energy developers to be thorough in their environmental impact assessments (EIA).2,4

The wave surge converter is composed of a combination of moving and stationary parts. The moving parts include the flap or float that moves as the energy from a wave moves over it and into shore (as shown in previous sections) and the hinges.5 The stationary parts are the foundation, transmission lines of electricity or pressurized water/air, and the onshore generators. Each of these components has its own environmental effects during the lifecycle of the installation i.e. construction, operation, and decommission.1

Wave Surge Converter via EMEC http://www.emec.org.uk/marine-energy/wave-devices/


  1. Aquamarine Power. “Brough Head Wave Farm Scoping Report” Aquamarene Power Available from: http://www.aquamarinepower.com/sites/resources/Reports/3022/Brough%20Head%20Wave%20Farm%20Scoping%20Report.pdf
  2. Boehlert, George W., and Andrew B. Gill. “Environmental and ecological effects of ocean renewable energy development: a current synthesis.” (2010).

  3. Frid, Chris, Eider Andonegi, Jochen Depestele, Adrian Judd, Dominic Rihan, Stuart I. Rogers, and Ellen Kenchington. “The environmental interactions of tidal and wave energy generation devices.” Environmental Impact Assessment Review 32, no. 1 (2012): 133-139.

  4. Shields, Mark A., David K. Woolf, Eric PM Grist, Sandy A. Kerr, A. C. Jackson, Robert E. Harris, Michael C. Bell et al. “Marine renewable energy: The ecological implications of altering the hydrodynamics of the marine environment.” Ocean & Coastal Management 54, no. 1 (2011): 2-9.

  5. Whittaker T., Folley M. (2012): “Nearshore Oscillating Wave Surge Converters and the Development of Oyster”, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A. 370, 345-364.


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