The EcoWatt2050 consortium has been established through the auspices of the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS) and funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
Marine renewable energy is an important component of the Scottish Government’s vision for the future and will help the government reach its ambitious decarbonisation and climate change objectives.
The EcoWatt2050 project was created to investigate how we can ensure that the benefits of future large scale renewable energy developments can be maximised, whilst minimising the environmental impacts and ensuring that various legal requirements are met. The project considered the potential impacts of both future marine renewable energy and climate change, and quantified the changes in each case.
The three year EcoWatt2050 project is led by Heriot Watt University, in partnership with the Universities of Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Strathclyde, Swansea, the Highlands and Islands, the National Oceanography Centre and Marine Scotland Science, the organization responsible for providing scientific advice to the Scottish Government on all aspects of marine renewable energy development, policy and planning.
Image: Residual currents velocities from FVCOM model, representative of the present climate summer season (August).
The research programme has been specifically designed to respond to questions posed by MSS:
- How can marine planning be used to lay the foundation for the sustainable development of very large scale arrays of marine renewable energy devices?
- What criteria should be used to determine the ecological limits to marine renewable energy extraction, and what are the implications for very large scale array characteristics?
- How can we differentiate the effects of climate change from energy extraction on the marine ecosystem?
- Are there ways in which marine renewables development may ameliorate or exacerbate the predicted effects of climate change on marine ecosystems?
The overarching objective is thus to determine ways in which marine spatial planning and policy development, can enable the maximum level of marine energy extraction, while minimizing environmental impacts and ensuring that these meet the legal criteria established by European law.
EcoWatt2050 builds in direct participation from industry in various aspects of its work, and has a number of wider knowledge exchange and stakeholder engagement activities planned.