G2 - Development of population level environmental impact models

G - Environmental And Ecosystem Aspects

Status - published
Last updated on: 21/06/2022


There are currently no standard analytical methods to predict population level environmental impacts and deal with priority issues of marine animal and bird collision risk, displacement and disturbance.


Development of data collection, analysis and modelling techniques that include uncertainty estimates for marine animals and birds from individual up to population level. This will enable scientist to resolve environmental impact uncertainties, such as collision risk, displacement and disturbance for individual to population levels.

Context And Need

Lack of certainty in population level environmental effects has high potential to be a showstopper (eg. Firth of Forth windfarm Judicial Review)


ORE projects may be prevented or held back by the lack of confidence of their effect on the marine environment. The current models do not predict the impact on individuals and on population levels with good certainty and so development of these models and the data collection and analysis methods behind them would enable more confident prediction of the impact on marine animals and birds.

This would enable the impact of ORE projects to be better understood and potentially lead to cost reduction in environmental monitoring and faster project consenting.

Impact Potential

The impact of improved models for population level environmental impact on marine animals and birds will help to remove a barrier from the development and acceleration of the ORE sector and will help to lower CAPEX costs significantly by enabling the sector to develop. New models will be cutting edge science.

Research Status

On-going research with lots of priority lists being created /updated, but little funding to proceed beyond current level of knowledge


Links to Industry Priorities:


Active research projects:

  • Connectivity of Hard Substrate Assemblages in the North Sea (CHASANS) - Funded by NERC: NE/T010886/1: The aim of this project is to enhance our understanding of the connectivity of marine growth across artificial substrata in the North Sea. Team expertise in biofouling monitoring, oceanographic modelling, and population genetics will be used to generate a multidisciplinary dataset to validate biologically realistic models of larval connectivity. These models will be used to predict how networks of offshore renewable energy and oil & gas infrastructure in the North Sea function in biofouling dispersal and metapopulation structure.
  • Biodiversity characterisation and hydrodynamic consequences of marine fouling communities on marine renewable energy infrastructure in the Orkney Islands Archipelago, Scotland, UK: As part of ongoing commitments to produce electricity from renewable energy sources in Scotland, Orkney waters have been targeted for potential large-scale deployment of wave and tidal energy converting devices. Orkney has a well-developed infrastructure supporting the marine energy industry; recently enhanced by the construction of additional piers. A major concern to marine industries is biofouling on submerged structures, including energy converters and measurement instrumentation. In this study, the marine energy infrastructure and instrumentation were surveyed to characterise the biofouling. Fouling communities varied between deployment habitats; key species were identified allowing recommendations for scheduling device maintenance and preventing spread of invasive organisms. A method to measure the impact of biofouling on hydrodynamic response is described and applied to data from a wave-monitoring buoy deployed at a test site in Orkney. The results are discussed in relation to the accuracy of the measurement resources for power generation. Further applications are suggested for future testing in other scenarios, including tidal energy.


We would also like to invite UK researchers and industry stakeholders within ORE to submit links to research projects, both past and present, for inclusion within the landscape.

Therefore, if you have a UK-based research project within an area of ORE that you feel is relevant to a specific research theme or challenge within the Research Landscape, click HERE to submit your research project to the research landscape


PhD projects in Offshore Renewable Energy

In order to better understand the breadth of ORE research currently being conducted in the UK, the Supergen ORE Hub has collated from its academic network, UK Centres for Doctoral Training and Industrial partners, a list of PhDs currently being undertaken in ORE.

Access a PDF of the list and find out more about including your PhD.

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