Annual Report 2015

Task 4 - Assessment of Environmental Effects and Monitoring Efforts


Annex IV seeks to be the premier international program engaged in bringing together information and practitioners on environmental effects of marine renewable energy development.

The second phase of Annex IV builds on the work completed during the first phase, by continuing to collect, analyze, and disseminate information, to enhance the development of the marine renewable energy industry by providing access to knowledge and information related to research, monitoring, and evaluation of environmental effects of offshore renewable energy. Supported by the online knowledge management system Tethys, developed by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a commons is being created for Annex IV that facilitates the broadcast and archiving of webinars, expert forums, and workshops focused on important scientific issues that are critical to the siting and permitting (consenting) of marine energy devices worldwide. Annex IV also plays a role in supporting the dissemination of information via international conferences and events, focusing on new environmental research and data on interactions among marine animals, habitats, and marine energy devices.

The culmination of phase 2 of Annex IV will be a State  of the Science report that summarizes the state of knowledge of environmental effects of marine energy development, and seeks to place that knowledge in context of the progress of the industry worldwide. The official State of the science document is scheduled to be released in April 2016.


During 2015, Phase 2 of Annex IV highlights include:

  • Participation by member nation analysts;
  • Collection and update of metadata forms;
  • Broad dissemination of information;
  • Convening and reporting on targeted workshops;
  • Holding webinars;
  • Progress towards the 2016 State of the Science report; and
  • A partnership with a major international conference.

Progress towards each achievement is described in the following sections.

  Phase II: 2013-2016
  Phase I:  2010-2013

Jocelyn Brown-Saracino, US Department of Energy (DOE)

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (US)
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (US)

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (US), assisted by Aquatera Ltd (UK)

Canada, China, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom and United States of America


Phase 2 of Annex IV is characterized by the close involvement of an analyst from each of the member nations. Each analyst was nominated by his/her nation, and is committed to contributing 10 to 20 hours per quarter to Annex IV.

Key tasks asked of each analyst include:

  • Reporting progress in marine energy development and environmental effects work within their respective countries, updating existing Annex IV metadata forms and providing new ones as projects or research studies are initiated;
  • Acting as an expert to help identify topics for Annex IV webinars, expert forums, and workshop topics;
  • Providing reviews of products, such as Tethys content and functionality;
  • Providing review of the State of the Science report;
  • Advising and participating in the 2015 European Wave and Tidal Energy Conference in Nantes, France; and
  • Acting as an ambassador for Annex IV in their respective country.


Information is collected for ongoing marine energy sites and research projects in the form of metadata that describe the project or study, the methods and outcomes of environmental monitoring, and provide contact information for the owners or authors of the reports. Building on the collection of metadata from phase 1, Annex IV continued to collect information on new wave and tidal projects and for ongoing research studies. This information is subsequently stored and can be accessed from Tethys. In addition, the program sought to update existing metadata forms by working through the country analysts and directly with developers and researchers. Over the course of 2015, 3 research study forms have been added, while 2 project site forms and 4 research study forms have been updated. This results in 22 projects sites and 34 research studies being up to date according to the determined 18-month threshold.

Additionally, 24 project sites and 17 research studies have been determined as “completed” or “canceled” and no longer require updates. The total Annex IV metadata form collection on Tethys currently includes 80 project sites and 57 research studies. Those totals include project sites for which there is no longer gear in the water but where environmental data were collected; they are maintained in the collection to increase the overall lessons that can be learned.

Tethys, the online knowledge management system which supports Annex IV material, continues to expand and to increase user interactions. The publically available collection of scientific papers, reports, and other media increased by 480 papers in the last year, for a total of 2069 entries. The collection includes information on offshore wind effects as well, but over half the papers are exclusively about marine energy development.

Over the past year, Tethys has seen an 89% increase in pageviews, with an increase in total visits to the site of 23%. During 2015, fifteen reviewers (ten with a background in wave, tidal or current energy) provided 98 peer review comments on the content and functionality of Tethys; the results of the peer review help guide improvements and changes to the system. A short survey was also sent to approximately 700 members of the Tethys community, providing 58 responses; these results gave an idea how users interact with the website. A report summarizing results of the peer review is available at:

Annex IV partnered with National Environmental Research Council to host a workshop at Ocean Business in Southampton, UK on April 16, 2015. This special session reviewed research and knowledge exchange programs for the development of novel technology, tools and methods, and considered the needs for the industry going forward. More information on this special session can be found at: 

Annex IV hosted a workshop on September 8, 2015 at the European Wave and Tidal Energy Conference with the objectives to 1) Brief the international marine renewable energy community on the Annex IV State of the Science Report; 2) Seek feedback from the community on topics of importance to the Annex IV initiative; 3) Provide methods for formal feedback on the Annex IV State of the Science Report. Brief presentations were given on selected chapters of the report, including: marine mammal collision risk, fish collision risk, electromagnetic fields, marine spatial planning, and case studies and consenting. Approximately 50-60 people attended this workshop. More information and archived presentations are available at:

Three webinars have been held by Annex IV in 2015, each bringing together between 55 and 100 people online to listen to recent research results and plans:

  1. Effects of Energy Removal on Physical Systems, February 3, 2015
    This webinar featured three modeling approaches that examine potential changes to physical systems. As wave and tidal devices are installed at commercial scales, measurements may be made to validate the models. Speakers for this webinar included: David Woolf, Heriot-Watt University; Zhaoqing Yang, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; Kelley Ruehl and Craig Jones, Sandia National Laboratory.
  2. The Effects of Electromagnetic Fields on Marine Animals, May 7, 2015
    This webinar provided an overview of electromagnetic fields (EMF) in the marine environment, how additional EMF signatures from marine renewable energy devices may effect certain marine organisms, and how research efforts are addressing this issue. Speakers for this webinar included: Andrew Gill, Cranfield University; and Ann Bull, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
  3. Marine Renewable Energy Test Centers and Environmental Effects Research, July 21, 2015
    This webinar will discussed current environmental research efforts focused around marine renewable energy test centers and what is being planned for future test centers. Speakers included: Sarah Henkel, Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center; and Jennifer Norris, European Marine Renewable Energy Center.

The presentations and discussions from all webinars are archived at:

The culmination of Phase 2 of Annex IV will be the State of the Science of environmental impacts of marine renewable energy (MRE) report. Specific chapters detail the current state of scientific understanding, identify continued data gaps and suggest research and monitoring needs moving forward for important environmental concerns. The report includes chapters on: 1) An introduction to Annex IV, 1) A summary of the potential environmental impacts of marine renewable energy, 3) Collision risk for animals around tidal turbines 4) Risk to animal from MRE-generated sound, 5) Changes in physical systems, 6) Effects of electromagnetic fields, 7) Changes in habitat caused by MRE 8) Marine Spatial Planning, and 9) Case studies on permitting MRE devices. A complete draft will be released for public comment in February 2016 and it is anticipated that that final report will be released in April 2016.

Annex IV partnered with the European Wave and Tidal Energy Conference (EWTEC) during September 2015 in Nantes, France to enhance participation in the environmental track and increase the variety of papers presented. Twenty five papers were presented during this environmental track, an increase from 12 environmental presentations at the previous EWTEC. An average of 30 people attended each presentation and some presentations were so popular, not enough seating was available. The partnership with EWTEC was an opportunity for Annex IV member nations and researchers to share environmental research with a broad audience.

More information about the presentations of the environmental track can be found at:

The major focus of Annex IV activities during 2016 will be finalizing the State of the Science report and publicizing its release in April 2016 through a combination of communication documents, presentations and webinars. 

Future efforts will continue to focus on creating a commons around Annex IV and Tethys including: the continuation of the Annex IV environmental webinars and expert forums and the regular addition of new content, metadata, blog posts, and Tethys Blasts to continue engaging the Tethys community. Regular communication and update calls will be held with Annex IV member nation analysts to keep them apprised of Annex IV progress and upcoming activities such as: webinars and expert forums; soliciting new and updated metadata forms.

As the second phase of Annex IV will draw to a close in 2016, a proposal for a third phase will be submitted to the OES Executive Committee. During phase three, it is anticipated that Annex IV would continue many of the same successful activities while exploring new ways to engage the scientific and consenting communities to help the MRE industry move forward.