A team of European experts, led by RGU are looking at ways of accelerating and streamlining the environmental requirements associated with consents for offshore wind, wave and tidal projects.
The RiCORE project has been awarded €1.4 million from the European Commission's competitive Horizon 2020 programme and comprises teams from Ireland, Spain, Portugal, France and Scotland. The 18 month project will aim to tackle one of the key barriers to the deployment of offshore energy: consenting and environmental impacts.
Project Coordinator, Professor David Gray from RGU:
"Offshore energy projects have the potential to make a significant contribution to our energy security. However, they are not being brought on stream as quickly as hoped. Part of the problem is the time and costs involved in gaining environmental approval."
While Governments and the public are rightly concerned about the potential environmental impacts of offshore energy projects, the survey costs involved in carrying out full environmental impact assessments, and collecting data over two to three years, can be prohibitive particularly for low risk or time-limited deployments.
Dr. Teresa Simas from WavEC in Portugal:
"For many large projects there will always be a need to collect a lot of data. However, we think we can speed the process up for smaller schemes in marine zones that are less vulnerable. The key is to be able to identify schemes that are relatively low risk."
Dr. Ian Davies from Marine Scotland:
"The aim is to develop risk profiles based on a number of environmental and technical factors such as the scale of the project, the type of device, whether or not it is an existing technology - and the environmental sensitivity of the marine environment. Developments with low risk profiles can potentially be fast tracked."
Pierre Mascarenhas from E-CUBE Strategy Consultants:
"Through developing risk profiles for offshore wind, wave and tidal technologies and different marine environments across Europe, RiCORE addresses one of the main non-technical barriers to developing novel marine renewable energies, while reducing the environmental survey costs for developers."
As well as pre-deployment consenting, RiCORE is also looking at how to standardise environmental monitoring once a scheme is in the water.
Dr. Anne Marie O'Hagan from Beaufort in University College Cork, Ireland:
"There is currently a wide variety of methodologies and survey techniques employed to monitor the impact of marine renewable projects across Europe, and it is difficult to compare environmental data collected at different sites. We need to work towards standardising data collection to help policymakers understand the environmental effects of different devices, and the RiCORE project is an important step towards that goal."
RGU are leading RiCORE on behalf of the Offshore Renewables Institute, a collaboration between Robert Gordon University and the Universities of Dundee and Aberdeen.
RiCORE will run between January 1 2015 and June 30 2016.
The project partners are:
- Robert Gordon University (RGU) (Scotland)
- Marine Scotland (Scotland)
- Beaufort, University College Cork (Ireland)
- WavEC (Portugal)
- AZTI-Tecnalia (Spain)
- E-CUBE Strategy Consultants (France)