Looking Forward: Priority Research Projects for Marine Renewables
ORJIP Ocean Energy released the first draft of its ‘Forward Look’ report recently. It is an important step towards reducing the consenting risk for marine renewables projects in the UK.
ORJIP (Offshore Renewables Joint Industry Programme) Ocean Energy is an initiative to deal with the delays and difficulties involved in obtaining consent for wave and tidal developments. One key are of focus is Environmental Impact Assessments and Habitat Regulations Assessments, where sometimes there is very little relevant research on which to base the assessments, or where the data that is available has been obtained using new techniques.
The aim of the programme is therefore to identify and prioritise those areas where further research is necessary and to coordinate the research projects that follow. The hope is that this collaborative approach will help to reduce costs, avoid duplication and speed up decision-making.
After several years of industry-wide discussions, ORJIP Ocean Energy has now published a list of strategic research projects. The Forward Look paper highlights 21 areas of research as a top priority, but stresses that this is only the first version of the programme. In particular, it warns that initial discussions did not consider tidal range research, and data gaps in this area will be identified in later drafts.
ORJIP Ocean Energy will now focus on progressing research in the high priority areas. While it will not be able to fund the research directly it will work to support and facilitate relevant projects and is seeking to engage with companies and organisations involved in funding and carrying out such research.
According to Kirsty MacArthur (Legal Director), "It is an exciting initiative and one that we believe will have a positive impact on marine renewables. Coordinated research is much more effective than research carried out piecemeal, particularly when there is so much of it still to do!"