Dr Ian Ashton

Dr Ian Ashton

Research Fellow
Exeter University

Marine Renewable energy; wind, wave and tidal are widely considered technologies for the future. Their presence offshore can change the waves arriving at the coastline, with potential impacts on coastal processes, environment and recreation. The impact of energy extraction on coastal areas has proved a contentious issue and a source of ill feeling between developers and stakeholders (including surfers), leading to opposition from communities.

However, concern about coastal impacts of marine renewable energy developments are often connected to specific coastal locations. These include ecologically sensitive areas and recreational areas such as those used for surfing. Rather than quantifying the impacts on the coastline of a development already designed, this paper demonstrates a method of calculating the offshore areas through which waves that impact on sensitive areas travel. Using a surfing case study from the West coast of Orkney, these geographical areas are highlighted, showing the areas of concern for the surfing community. This methodology is seen as a tool to allow constructive discussions between coastal communities and MRE developers, enabling energy extraction to coexist near sensitive coastal areas, avoiding negative impacts.

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About the speaker

Ian is a physical oceanographer, and wave analyst working as part of the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) group within the University of Exeter. Working with energy developers and relevant authorities, Ian is managing projects to improve test facilities and deliver independent research support to the renewable energy industry. Drawing on his PhD in ocean waves, and experience measuring and modelling them, Ian has led projects examining the potential impact of marine renewable energy on ocean waves.

Working closely with Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), and the renewable energy industry since 2006, Ian and the ORE group have been developing new methods to analyse the potential impact of offshore infrastructure, aiming to support positive engagement between the surfing community and the renewable energy industry, helping avoid unwanted impacts from these new marine energy industries.

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