A wildlife monitoring buoy has been deployed in the sea off the coast of Holyhead, marking a significant milestone for tidal energy in Wales. Data gathered as part of the initiative will inform future turbine installations at the Morlais tidal energy site as well as similar projects worldwide.

Part of the Marine Characterisation Research Project (MCRP), led by Anglesey social enterprise Menter Môn, the aim is help ensure marine wildlife is safeguarded as turbines are deployed in the sea off the coast of Holy Island in north Wales.  The buoy travelled to Holyhead from Orkney and is equipped with data collection technology, including surface and underwater infrared and red-green-blue cameras. The craft is powered by solar and wind energy.

Clare Llywelyn, MCRP project manager explains: “The buoy will help us carry out valuable environmental research which will support the development of Morlais as well as other similar schemes across the world. The data collected here on Anglesey is crucial and will be made available to future marine renewable energy projects. The main focus is to trial visual data collection methods as well as to analyse the information gathered to automatically identify species. The project will help us learn more about the marine mammals living in the area and how we can protect them.”

Dafydd Gruffydd is Managing Director of Menter Môn, he added: “This is an exciting development, and is the first piece of equipment to be deployed in the sea here as we undertake monitoring work in preparation for Morlais. The technology we are using as part of this project is cutting edge and the research will be key to the growth of tidal energy worldwide. Ensuring local marine wildlife and habitats are safeguarded has always been important to us as we develop renewable energy schemes – the MCRP is part of our strategy to do just that.”

Through the MCRP, Menter Môn is working with a network of industry leading academics and businesses based around the UK, to develop a plan for the industry. The project is funded by European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government and The Crown Estate.

When this phase of the MCRP is complete, work is expected to begin on the installation of turbines in the sea in the Morlais zone in 2026. Environmental monitoring will continue through the lifetime of the project to ensure the safeguarding of marine mammals and seabirds.

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