PLoS One. 2022 Nov 17;17(11):e0276757. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0276757. eCollection 2022.
Marine renewables could form a significant part of the green energy mix. However, a potential environmental impact of tidal energy converters (TECs) is collision risk between a device and animal, which has been a significant barrier in the consenting process. While it is important to understand the number of collisions of an animal with the device, the relative speed at which an animal collides with the device, and the point on the animal where collision occurs, will determine whether a collision is fatal, which is important in understanding population-level impacts. Using a simulation-based collision risk model, this paper demonstrates a novel method for producing estimates of mortality. Extracting both the speed and the location of collisions between an animal and TEC, in this instance a seal and horizontal axis turbine, collision speed and location of collision are used to produce probabilities of mortality. To provide a hypothetical example we quantified the speed and position at which a collision occurs to estimate mortality and, using collision position, we determine all predicted collisions with the head of the animal as fatal, for example, whilst deeming other collisions non-fatal. This is the first collision risk model to incorporate speed at the point of contact and the location where the collision occurs on the animal, to estimate the probability of mortality resulting from a collision. The hypothetical scenarios outline how these important variables extracted from the model can be used to predict the proportion of fatal events. This model enables a comprehensive approach that ultimately provides advancements in collision risk modelling for use in the consenting process of TECs. Furthermore, these methods can easily be adapted to other renewable energy devices and receptors, such as wind and birds.