Airborne drones ‘could soon discover ideal spots for tidal energy projects’

Current methods for assessing tidal streams depend on survey vessels or special sensors installed at the seabed, approaches that can be time-consuming and expensive

The Big Zero report

Scientists will soon be able to use drones to discover the best locations for future tidal energy projects.

They will fly above offshore projects to film the movement of water in a new scientific trial to boost the efficiency of renewable energy.

The captured data will be entered into algorithms to determine the speed of water and allow developers to identify ideal locations for underwater tidal turbines – this could potentially reduce costs and generate opportunities for developing countries.

Current methods for assessing tidal streams depend on survey vessels or special sensors installed at the seabed, approaches that can be time-consuming and expensive.

Scientists plan to run tests in the Pentland Firth in Scotland and the Ramsey Sound in Wales in various weather conditions.

The 12-month project is led by Dr Benjamin Williamson at North Highlands College UHI’s Environmental Research Institute in Thurso along with colleagues from Swansea University and Bangor University in Wales.

Dr Williamson said: “Measuring the flow speed and movement of water is vital for developing offshore renewable energy.

“Our aerial technique offers a cost-effective way to support environmentally-sustainable development of marine renewable energy. We hope to help address the climate emergency by advancing our ability to generate reliable clean energy.”

If you enjoyed this story you can sign up to our weekly email for Energy Live News – and if you’re interested in hearing more about the journey to net zero by 2050, you can also sign up to the future Net Zero newsletter. 

Latest Podcast