Ecologically-sustainable futures for large-scale renewables and how to get there
Keywords:Cumulative effects, Ecological Trade-offs, Modelling Frameworks, Strategic Environmental Assessments
To arrive at a sustainable future we need offshore renewables to succeed, and to do so we need to work together. There have been ecological showstoppers in the past and there will be again in the future unless we can co-design devices, array layouts and site locations of multiple very large-scale developments such that cumulative ecological effects can be assessed and conflicts with ecological laws, local communities and fishing industries be minimized. In order to effectively spatially manage our marine habitats, weigh-up ecological trade-offs and avoid/adapt to the worst effects of climate change, we need all those involved to understand, at some degree of detail, how our marine ecosystems function such that impact mitigation efforts can start at the design stage of devices and developments. This paper outlines a straightforward way to convey the most important environmental issues that are concerning renewables developments, as well as in the context of climate change, and at the scales of individuals and ecosystems. It covers a range of suggestions for the design of data collection, analysis and modelling frameworks to deal with these concerns and finishes with suggestions for potential avenues for future collaboration between ecological and engineering sciences.
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