The potential impact of marine renewable energy technology on the environment will come under the microscope when three Scottish Universities come together to host an international conference in Orkney next spring.
The International Conference on the Environmental Interactions of Marine Renewable Energy Technologies (EIMR) 2012, will bring together leading international specialists, hosted by scientists from the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI), Heriot-Watt University’s International Centre for Island Technology (ICIT) and The University of Aberdeen.
The aim of the conference is to review leading research from around the world and come to an understanding on whether and how emerging technologies might affect coastlines and the seabed, as well as marine animals and seabirds and the human communities living in the areas where development is expected to take place.
Dr Sandy Kerr, of Heriot-Watt’s International Centre for Island Technology at the University’s Orkney Campus, said: “The marine renewables industry needs to satisfy regulators that the technology will have a minimal impact on its surroundings. There’s a great deal of research going on around the world to check and assess this and our aim is to bring together the results of individual projects to get an overview of any potential impacts, and how to minimise or eliminate them.
“In many areas, bodies of research seem to demonstrate many of the concerns expressed about any potential impacts are not borne out by scientific studies, but a rigorous overview is imperative.”
Head of the UHI Energy Research Group, Dr Mike Weston said, “We are delighted that the expertise which has been built up over recent years will be recognised by the international research community, and are relishing the chance to welcome some of the leading scientists from all over the world to Orkney for this ground-breaking conference.
The research community across the Highlands and Islands, associated with the Marine Renewable Energy Sector is rapidly emerging as an important economic driver across the Highland and Islands’ economy, and has attracted some very accomplished and highly-skilled people to live and work here.”
The partners in this project are the University of the Highlands and Islands, which carries out energy-related research at its campuses at The Scottish Association for Marine Science UHI at Dunstaffnage, near Oban in Argyll, the Environmental Research Institute at North Highland college UHI in Thurso, Caithness, Lews Castle College UKI on Lewis and the NAFC UHI at Scalloway in Shetland, ICIT, which is part of Heriot-Watt University’s Institute of Petroleum Engineering, established in Orkney since 1989 and the University of Aberdeen.
The core conference programme will take place from 1 — 3 May 2012, but it is expected that, with planned field trips and fringe meetings, the delegates will be in Orkney for around a week. Details of the speakers and programme, news about the conference, and how to contact the organisers will appear on the conference website, at http://www.eimr.org/