One legitimate concern that can some times derail an otherwise good intentioned ocean energy project is potential impacts on passing marine life. One United Kingdom company who believes it has a sonar based solution to this is Tritech, an outfit known for its acoustic sensors, sonars, video cameras and mechanical tooling equipment for the professional underwater markets.
The Gemini SeaTec Mammal Detection System, as Tritech calls it, is described as a real-time multi-beam imaging sonar technology for the ocean energy market. It uses the company’s multi-beam sonar and bespoke image detection software to reportedly deliver “an early warning of the presence of sea mammals in the vicinity of marine current turbine structures.” It is believed that by providing this early warning marine turbine operators could take some action to mitigate impact to a passing sea lion, for example, by remotely stopping the turbine from spinning.
Tritech said it has already been testing this marine life warning solution on SeaGen, a tidal turbine, in Strangford Lough, County Down, Northern Ireland. It also reportedly has worked closely with the commercial arm of the Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU Ltd) at St. Andrews University and tidal energy company Marine Current Turbines (MCT) to help develop the Gemini SeaTec system.
Beyond marine life monitoring, other potential applications of this technology include survey of pre/ post cable lay survey operations, sub-sea monitoring and inspection and scour monitoring.