Achievement of energy security and the UK's 2020 carbon targets economy
depends upon a mix of new offshore oil and gas and renewable energy
developments, but concern that seismic survey and construction noise could
pose an unacceptable risk to marine mammals threatens to delay these
University of Aberdeen ecologists, under the direction of Paul Thompson,
have developed long-term studies of marine mammal population dynamics that
now underpin frameworks for assessing and mitigating the impacts of such
developments on marine mammals in EU protected areas.
The specific impact on commerce and the environment is that this
assessment process has been adopted by industry within their consent
applications. As a result of academic consultancy in industry, planning
decisions have been informed by the research, and the management of
environmental risks has changed. This has reduced the consenting risk
for industry and provided an assessment framework that allows regulators
to ensure that they are implementing current government policy within
international legal frameworks for environmental protection.
Dr Lusseau's work at the University of Aberdeen into the impact of man's
activities on wild animals
has led to changes in public and environmental policies in several nations
as well as changes in
international policies. He developed insights as well as modelling
approaches to understand the
consequences of human disturbances on the viability of animal populations.
The Aberdeen work has led to a change in the way the environmental impact
of a range of
industries — including tourism, marine renewable energy and oil & gas
— is assessed. Lusseau
developed best approaches to manage the disruptions of animal behaviour
that those activities
created to ensure that those disturbances do not endanger the viability of
wild animal populations.
Specifically this research resulted in impact that influenced
international policy development and
international planning processes. It also informed planning decisions
and changed the way
environmental risks and hazards are managed in the UK, USA, and New
Zealand, and informed
changes in legislations and regulations in the USA, UK and New Zealand.
The International Centre for Island Technology (ICIT) based at
Heriot-Watt University's Orkney
campus is a multi-disciplinary research team whose focus for over a decade
has been research
into the socio-economic and environmental barriers to the development of
energy, particularly in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters (PFOW) area
and its establishment as
a Marine Energy park. This has enabled 1.2GW of marine energy leases by
the Crown Estates
including an estimated £3billion of related capital investment, as well as
the establishment of the
European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), which continues to maintain its
impact on the
development of marine renewable energy.
Research at the International Centre for Island Technology at Heriot-Watt
University has led to a
substantial boost to Orkney with £8.8m in Gross Value Added to the local
economy, with the
creation of 119 jobs (Biggar Economics, 2012) through a dozen spin-out
Conservation of migratory bird species is an inherently international
endeavour, because the fate of these species depends upon the actions of
nations throughout their migratory ranges.
Research into migratory wading bird populations by Jennifer Gill and
colleagues at UEA has had the following impacts:
The impact is in the ERPE design of protocols which are subsequently used
for evaluation and
comparison of the performance of tidal energy converter designs.
Researchers within the UK
Centre for Marine Energy Research (UKCMER) at ERPE have led much of the
applied research that has supported the commercialisation of tidal energy
technologies through the
establishment of new international test standards and protocols.
ERPE researchers have regularly provided evidence which has influenced
policy change in marine
energy development in the UK and internationally with many ERPE graduating
subsequently employed in the marine energy sector.
The University of Southampton's research into micro-wind turbines —
small-scale devices for generating electricity at the point of use — has
been instrumental in the shift away from turbines mounted on buildings in
urban areas to more productive pole-mounted devices in the countryside. It
has informed public understanding of the potential and limitations of
micro-wind power, and helped inject a new realism into the process of
micro-wind power generation, forcing manufacturers to retreat from claims
that could not be met. The research has been used to help set government
subsidy levels for micro-wind power, and as a basis for modelling
projections of future energy.
Research on the status, distribution and ecology of sea turtles at the
University of Exeter has
driven national and international conservation policy, engaged millions of
people worldwide and
raised substantial funding for conservation. Governments including the UK,
Cyprus and Gabon have used this research in making legislation and
management decisions. Development of open-access animal tracking tools has
facilitated a global
network of over 135 countries, with more than 300 projects tracking
thousands of animals from 118
species. The ability to adopt tracked animals online has attracted
millions of visitors and raised
funding for conservation projects world-wide.
Researchers at the University of St Andrews have changed the way
environmental monitoring and impact assessment data are collected and
analysed, particularly in the marine environment. We have developed new
statistical models of wildlife population dynamics that, for example, form
the basis for population assessment of most of the world's grey seals,
allowing the UK and Canadian governments to implement effective management
of the populations. Other research carried out by us has led to
reformulation of the recommended standard statistical practice for impact
assessment in the UK marine renewables industry, enabling marine
regulators such as Marine Scotland to make better-informed licensing
decisions concerning large-scale offshore renewable energy developments.
The research resulted in primary legislation and provided government with
the evidence used when implementing the measures set out within
legislation. Specifically, this concerned:
This work, together with connected public outreach, was awarded the
Queen's Anniversary Prize in 2011 for excellence in research supporting
better governance of the ocean.
Examples are provided of significant impact by the Centre for
Mathematical Modelling and Flow Analysis (CMMFA) upon the Marine
Renewables and Offshore Wind communities. In particular, CMMFA informed
the design of a novel wave energy converter being commercialised for
connection to the national grid. CMMFA has also contributed to a study of
the design parameters for an offshore wind power station as part of a
larger interdisciplinary collaborative research effort. This work responds
to and informs the RCUK
Energy Programme via underpinning research, capacity building and
provision of trained personnel thus enacting UK Government Energy Policy.