The Environmental Research Institute (ERI) in Thurso has recently secured funding of over 2 million Euros from the European Regional Development Fund. They will lead a transnational project (TURNKEY) to reinforce Atlantic Areas cooperation in the field of wave and tidal energy, with partners from France, Spain and Portugal.
The main goal of the Atlantic Area Programme is to achieve progress on transnational cooperation geared towards cohesive, sustainable and balanced territorial development of the Atlantic Area and its maritime heritage.
Transnational cooperation is about looking beyond local issues and national borders. It is about meeting people, exchanging experiences, sharing knowledge, developing a new culture and achieving better results together, rather than alone.
TURNKEY (Transforming Underutilised Renewable Natural Resource into Key Energy Yields) is designed to create a thriving industry that will help reduce the causes of climate change and bring secure, long-term jobs, whilst protecting the coastal and marine environment. Rarely has a new industry presented such remarkable potential.
To address the challenges in the Atlantic Area, thematic priorities and specific objectives to strengthen cooperation have been identified.
This project fulfils Priority 2 of the Atlantic Area Trans-national Programme – Protect, secure and enhance the marine and coastal environment sustainably.
- 2.1: Improve maritime safety
- 2.2: Sustainable management and protection of the resources of marine spaces
- 2.3: Exploit the renewable energy potential of the marine and coastal environment
- 2.4: Protect and promote the natural spaces, water resources and coastal zones.
The TURNKEY project will achieve the objectives of this strategy by providing outcomes aimed at accelerating wave and tidal power development throughout the Atlantic Areas.
The aim of TURNKEY is to become a ‘hub’ for marine energy research, capable of attracting top research teams and scientific collaborations to the industry. TURNKEY will use a ‘triple helix approach’, the closer working of academic, business and government partners to promote regional growth and renewal, which is being increasingly used to maximise outcomes.
TURNKEY is an innovative project in that as well as utilising the marine environment to create energy, it will also promote the sustainable development of rural Atlantic Areas where the population density and relative level of development are traditionally low. Also, these areas are often fuel poverty areas and suffer from high unemployment.
Scientists within the partnership will be looking to:
- optimise marine energy resources, e.g. finding the best locations for wave and tidal energy and assessing their marine energy potential.
- research environmental safety and coastal protection and will be involved in the deployment of innovative technology to collect data on wave and other oceanographic conditions.
- conduct research into fish species and spawning sites, possible electromagnetic disturbance along cable alignments and evidence of impact of marine devices.
All research follows the guidelines set out by the Scottish Government.
TURNKEY project partners have worked closely to identify issues of transnational relevance and will work jointly across the work packages so that they all have an input and share the benefits of the results.
The TURNKEY project is very significant in the light of Scotland’s renewable energy policies. The government target is to achieve 30 per cent of Scotland’s energy needs, and 11 per cent of heat demand, through renewable sources by 2020, and the strategy to do so has a number of key policy pillars and actions that the project will help address. These are:
- linking environmental sustainability to economic growth
- creating new indigenous industries in rural areas
- adopting tripartite development models
- promoting and accelerating marine renewable energy development.
The objectives of the project are to:
- Survey, map and characterise potential development sites.
- Design a pre-development marine energy consent strategy.
- Identify methods to de-risk project development.
- Build the economic and business case for further investments.
- Develop enduring relationships between Atlantic Area partners and businesses in the marine energy sectors.
- Undertake experiments on a test site to provide cost effective monitoring.
ERI involvement with TURNKEY
The Highlands & Islands of Scotland are burdened by high fuel prices, and contribute to global warming through high per capita energy consumption. As part of the ERI’s Renewable Energy and the Environment Research themes, work has been carried out on a number of projects: Resource & Risk, Environmental Impacts and Towards Sustainability.
This has been achieved through focus on knowledge-transfer opportunities with communities and local businesses.
TURNKEY provides another opportunity for the ERI to apply its expertise and engage with communities not only in Scotland but across the Atlantic Areas region and contribute towards achieving regional, national and European renewable energy targets.
The ERI is leading the TURNKEY project and will focus on the following themes:
- health and safety
- environmental protection
- coastal protection
- sustainable seas
- accelerated development
- resource optimisation
- existing industries
- economic benefit
ERI – renewable energy, the environment and TURNKEY
The ERI is assisting the development and establishment of sustainable energy industries by understanding the inherent impact on the environment and communities. The survey capability of their research vessel ERI AURORA, for example, enables staff and students access to the Pentland Firth. This supports industry and policy makers through the measurement of energy resources and monitoring of environmental impacts.
Renewable energy and the environment research focuses on the establishment in the Highlands and Islands of sustainable energy generation which is sympathetic to the natural environment and communities.
The exploitation of renewable energy resources in Scotland in particular is motivated by concerns over climate change and security of supply.
- Assessing available resources of marine renewable energy (tidal current, wave and offshore wind) around Scotland.
- Understanding the effects of marine renewable energy devices on the environment.
- Assessing the vulnerability of offshore installations to extreme weather.
- Achieving an integrated view of energy generation, energy saving and society.
- Understanding the inter-relationships of climate change, energy consumption and generation.
Resource and Risk
- Tidal resource & wave climate assessment.
- Modelling device-environment physical interaction.
- Weather windowing.
- Ecological study design.
- Currents, sedimentation and associated ecological change.
- Seabird and mammal interactions.
- Visual observations of benthic and pelagic communities.
Towards sustainability – management, policy, and communities
- Sustainable development.
- Community engagement.