Investigating the noise propagation from a novel tidal turbine to assess ecological risk
It is now widely accepted that a shift towards renewable energy generation is needed in order to avoid further accelerated climate change. Underwater tidal turbines, wave energy converters and offshore wind turbine farms provide access to a largely untapped source of renewable energy, and Europe is arguably leading the way for technological advancements. However, while the advantages of renewable energy generation are not in doubt, locally the environmental impacts can be noticeable and need to be carefully considered.
In close collaboration with Drs Louise Kregting, Pal Schmitt and Lilian Lieber from Queens University Belfast, and Dr Ross Culloch from Marine Science Scotland, we have been undertaking noise measurements of a newly developed tidal turbine, Minesto's Deep Green Powerkite (https://minesto.com/our-technology) to understand how this technology may influence the area's soundscape. To do this, we have been undertaking advanced underwater noise modelling techniques to establish zones of masking in marine mammals. We are focusing on acoustic masking (the interference of a biologically important signal by an intrusive noise source (i.e. a turbine in this case) because the lowest noise levels for the onset of behavioural impacts occur at the highest level of masking. Therefore, by understanding how varying environmental conditions (for example weather conditions) can change the spatial extent of masking, we can begin to explore various times when mitigation strategies for reducing noise effects on marine mammals may be most effective.
See - Schmitt, P., Pine, M.K., Culloch, R.M., Lieber, L., Kregting, L.T. (In Press) Noise characterization of a sub-sea tidal kite. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America..