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Characteristics of the Operational Noise from Full Scale Wave Energy Converters in the Lysekil Project: Estimation of Potential Environmental Impacts
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Technology, Department of Engineering Sciences, Electricity.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Technology, Department of Engineering Sciences, Electricity.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Technology, Department of Engineering Sciences, Electricity.
2013 (English)In: Energies, ISSN 1996-1073, Vol. 6, no 5, 2562-2582 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Wave energy conversion is a clean electric power production technology. During operation there are no emissions in the form of harmful gases. However there are unsolved issues considering environmental impacts such as: electromagnetism; the artificial reef effect and underwater noise. Anthropogenic noise is increasing in the oceans worldwide and wave power will contribute to this sound pollution in the oceans; but to what extent? The main purpose of this study was to examine the noise emitted by a full scale operating Wave Energy Converter (WEC) in the Lysekil project at Uppsala University in Sweden. A minor review of the hearing capabilities of fish and marine mammals is presented to aid in the conclusions of impact from anthropogenic sound. A hydrophone was deployed to the seabed in the Lysekil research site park at distance of 20 and 40 m away from two operational WECs. The measurements were performed in the spring of 2011. The results showed that the main noise was a transient noise with most of its energy in frequencies below 1 kHz. These results indicate that several marine organisms (fish and mammals) will be able to hear the operating WECs of a distance of at least 20 m.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 6, no 5, 2562-2582 p.
Keyword [en]
direct driven wave energy converter, underwater noise, environmental impact, renewable energy
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Research subject
Engineering Science with specialization in Science of Electricity
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-203675DOI: 10.3390/en6052562ISI: 000319443200013OAI: diva2:637457
Available from: 2013-07-18 Created: 2013-07-17 Last updated: 2015-02-03Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Underwater radiated noise from Point Absorbing Wave Energy Converters: Noise Characteristics and Possible Environmental Effects
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Underwater radiated noise from Point Absorbing Wave Energy Converters: Noise Characteristics and Possible Environmental Effects
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The conversion of wave energy into electrical energy has the potential to become a clean and sustainable form of renewable energy conversion. However, like all forms of energy conversion it will inevitably have an impact on the marine environment, although not in the form of emissions of hazardous substances (gases, oils or chemicals associated with anticorrosion). Possible environmental issues associated with wave energy conversion include electromagnetic fields, alteration of sedimentation and hydrologic regimes and underwater radiated noise.

Underwater noise has the potential to propagate over long distances and thus have the potential to disturb marine organisms far away from the noise source. There is great variation in the ability to perceive sound between marine organisms, one sound that is clearly audible to one species can be completely inaudible to another. Thus, to be able to determine potential environmental impact from WECs associated with underwater noise, the noise radiated from the WECs must be known. This thesis presents results from studies on the underwater radiated noise from four different full-scale WECs in the Lysekil Wave Power Project.

Hydrophones were used to measure the underwater radiated noise from operating point absorbing linear WECs. The main purpose was to study the radiated noise from the operating WECs with emphasis on characteristics such as spectrum levels, Sound Pressure Level (SPL), noise duration and repetition rate. This to be able to determine the origin of the noise and if possible, implement design changes to minimize radiated noise.

The results identified two main operational noises (transients with the bulk of the energy in frequencies <1 kHz). The SPL of the radiated noise fluctuated significantly, depending on wave height. Broadband SPLrms of the measurements ranged between ~110 dB and ~140 dB re 1 µPa and SPLpeak of specific noises ranges between ~140 and ~180 dB re µPa. Audibility was estimated range from 1km to 15 km depending critically on species and on assumptions of propagation loss. The noise is not expected to have any negative effects on behaviour or mask any signals, unless in the vicinity (<150m) of the WECs in significant wave heights. No physical damage, even in close vicinity are expected on either fish or marine mammals.

Having the aim to have as little impact on the environment a possible, these studies are important. This way precautions can be implemented early in the technical development of this kind of renewable energy converters. The benefits from the WECs the Lysekil wave power project are believed to outweigh possible environmental impacts due to underwater radiated noise.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2014. 62 p.
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology, ISSN 1651-6214 ; 1200
Wave energy conversion, renewable energy, environmental impact, marine ecology, underwater noise
National Category
Natural Sciences Engineering and Technology
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-235016 (URN)978-91-554-9097-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-12-12, Häggsalen, Lägerhyddsvägen 1, Uppsala, 13:15 (English)

Vid avhandlingens tryckläggning upptäcktes inte att tidpunkt för disputation var fel.

Available from: 2014-11-21 Created: 2014-10-28 Last updated: 2015-02-03

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