Journal cover Journal topic
Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 13, issue 8
Biogeosciences, 13, 2593-2609, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-13-2593-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Biogeosciences, 13, 2593-2609, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-13-2593-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 02 May 2016

Research article | 02 May 2016

Potential environmental impact of tidal energy extraction in the Pentland Firth at large spatial scales: results of a biogeochemical model

Johan van der Molen1, Piet Ruardij2, and Naomi Greenwood1,3 Johan van der Molen et al.
  • 1The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), Lowestoft, UK
  • 2Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), Den Burg, Texel, the Netherlands
  • 3School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK

Abstract. A model study was carried out of the potential large-scale (>100km) effects of marine renewable tidal energy generation in the Pentland Firth, using the 3-D hydrodynamics–biogeochemistry model GETM-ERSEM-BFM. A realistic 800MW scenario and a high-impact scenario with massive expansion of tidal energy extraction to 8GW scenario were considered. The realistic 800MW scenario suggested minor effects on the tides, and undetectable effects on the biogeochemistry. The massive-expansion 8GW scenario suggested effects would be observed over hundreds of kilometres away with changes of up to 10% in tidal and ecosystem variables, in particular in a broad area in the vicinity of the Wash. There, waters became less turbid, and primary production increased with associated increases in faunal ecosystem variables. Moreover, a one-off increase in carbon storage in the sea bed was detected. Although these first results suggest positive environmental effects, further investigation is recommended of (i) the residual circulation in the vicinity of the Pentland Firth and effects on larval dispersal using a higher-resolution model and (ii) ecosystem effects with (future) state-of-the-art models if energy extraction substantially beyond 1GW is planned.

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The potential large-scale (> 100 km) effects of marine renewable tidal energy generation in the Pentland Firth were studied using a 3-D hydrodynamics–biogeochemistry model. A realistic 800 MW scenario suggested minor effects on tides and biogeochemistry. A massive-expansion 8 GW scenario suggested effects over hundreds of kilometres away with changes of up to 10 % in tidal and ecosystem variables, the latter through clearer waters and increased primary production with associated increases in fauna.
The potential large-scale ( 100 km) effects of marine renewable tidal energy generation in the...
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