Tidal power has the potential to provide countries with all the energy they could need – but at what cost? A team of scientists in Wales just launched a study to investigate the impact of tidal energy generation on Pembrokeshire’s coastal and marine environments. The team will work with 3D models of the seabed to study the effects of turbulence and underwater background noise on marine wildlife and fish behavior.

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A team of experts from five Welsh universities will use two research vessels to monitor the trial of a newly designed underwater tidal generator and its impact on region’s ecosystems.

The 25 scientists have even given their maritime study a militaristic operational name – Operation Celtic Odyssey – as they begin their research aboard Swansea University‘s research vessel Noctiluca and Cardiff’s Guiding Light. The vessels will also act as floating laboratories and offshore classrooms while the team observes local marine wildlife.

Speaking to the BBC, Dr Chris Wooldridge of Cardiff University said they would make an independent and impartial assessment of the effects of tidal energy generation. While the region has huge potential for tidal power, he said the team wanted to establish whether the energy source is environmentally sustainable — and the trial of a new underwater generator off the Pembrokeshire coast provided the perfect opportunity.

“WAG [the Welsh Assembly Government] is committed to renewable energy but how many more wind farms can be accommodated?” Dr Wooldridge said. “We’ve got to look at alternatives. Energy debates are invariably passionate in nature whether they surround nuclear, conventional, wind or marine power.”

“Celtic Odyssey is well placed to make a substantive, evidence-based contribution to the debate on tidal power.”

+ Swansea University

Via BBC News

Lead image dougwoods