A tidal current turbine being tested in Irish waters has been given a clean bill of marine health, according to a report being published today.
SeaGen, billed as the world’s first commercial tidal current energy turbine, is installed in Northern Ireland’s Strangford Lough.
The device, designed and deployed by Bristol-based Marine Current Turbines (MCT), was found to have had no major impact on the Lough’s marine life since being installed in 2008, according to a report by environmental consultancy Royal Haskoning.
The report was written in collaboration with an independent Science Group, comprising representatives of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Queen’s University Belfast, the Sea Mammal Research Unit and others and prepared on behalf of MCT, which is part owned by Siemens.
It is being published today in Belfast.
Its main conclusions were listed as SeaGen having no major impacts, including no change in the number of either seals or porpoises, which could be attributed to SeaGen.
The only changes observed after three years of operation were “relatively small scale changes in the behaviour and distribution of seals and harbour porpoises”, which suggested a minor degree of local avoidance of SeaGen.
Seabed life was also monitored. This found that seabed life surrounding the device’s foundations had recovered since its installation in 2008.
The report also found there was no evidence of significant change to the tidal speeds and flow directions within Strangford Narrows and that it was unlikely that marine traffic between Strangford town and Portaferry had been affected. Bird life in the area had remained stable.
Frank Fortune, technical director at Royal Haskoning said: “The findings give us confidence that SeaGen will be able to continue to operate with no likely significant impacts on the marine environment of Strangford Lough.
“This validates the innovative, adaptive management approach to monitoring and mitigation taken by MCT and supported by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.”