The European Union promotes the development of Marine Renewable Energy (MRE – offshore wind, using wind turbines to harness wind power, and the many forms of technologies that make use of wave & tide energy, temperature and salinity gradients to generate electricity) to meet a growing energy demand, to support sustainable jobs and growth in the ‘blue economy’and to reduce carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels. The development of ocean energy is one of Europe’s five strategic priority sectors for blue growth. Constructing and operating MRE installations requires addressing complex tradeoffs between the need to produce ‘clean’ energy from sustainable sources, the management of technical, project, financial and market based risk, and public and industry concerns about potential environmental and welfare effects. The addition of a physical structure in the marine environment can lead to habitat loss and changes in species composition, and/or change in the dynamics of the existing populations. Other negative effects include changes in ambient noise and electromagnetic fields, potentially affecting behavior (e.g. migrations) of marine species. The key challenge for the MRE industry is to design and install MRE devices that protect, or significantly minimize the impact on, biodiversity.
Ocean literacy can: (i) support knowledge exchange between the natural science community and MRE developers; (ii) increase the confidence of investors in MRE; and (iii) address the gap between perceived and actual knowledge with regard to MRE development in local communities.