PML scientists are working with EDF Energy to provide an early warning system that can help prevent power-plant shutdowns.
The new system will allow the prediction of jellyfish blooms and monitor large formations of free-floating seaweed and broken seagrass that are frequent along the UK coast. These problematic events have the potential to overcome the filtration system of coastal power plant water intakes, leading to reduced efficiency or even full shutdown for a short period of time. Shutdowns are costly for both energy producers and their customers, so a new approach that can predict potential problems and help the power plant prepare for such events is welcome.
Using Earth observation and knowledge of environmental conditions - including wind, temperature, and chlorophyll levels – in combination with habitat models that indicate the preferred environment in which animals can be found, it should be possible to predict when potentially disruptive numbers of jellyfish will bloom. In addition, high-resolution imagery is available via the recently-launched Sentinel 2 satellite, and this will be tested to determine which image analysis method is best suited to spot high concentrations of seaweed drifting into troublesome areas.
Dr Sévrine Sailley, of PML’s Marine Ecosystems Models & Predictions group, who is leading the project, said “The project will offer new capacity in regard to monitoring and prediction of both jellyfish blooms and ‘clouds’ of seaweed detritus. This is very important for coastal power plants, and will prove equally useful in other coastal and off-shore ventures from energy to aquaculture and tourism.”
The project is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council Innovative Monitoring Approaches programme, with EDF Energy as a partner.