My name is Antonio Sarmento. I have a background in mechanical engineering, I was a professor at the engineering school at Lisbon University between 1977 and 2013 where I taught mainly fluid mechanics and renewable energies. My research interests during this period were centred on marine renewable energy, mainly in wave energy, but later also on the wind. Since then, I have been the president of the board of WAVEC. WAVEC is a centre for technology and innovation in marine renewable energy based in Lisbon. It was started by the University with a number of companies. We look at the floating off-shore wind, wave energy and agriculture. We cover engineering, the economy, the environment, and public policies and strategies relating to companies.
An important question in discussing satellite data is how it can be used to improve the efficiency and sustainability of marine renewable energy.
In on-site selection, one of the main difficulties is to assess wind resources. It is extremely expensive, particularly in deeper waters, to deploy instruments that can measure the wind velocities at the heights state industries require – typically 100 meters. So if satellite data can be used to provide accurate data, they will have a major impact. But the data have to be very accurate because wind power is proportional to the velocity cubed, so a small error in velocity results in a big error in power production and therefore on returns from investment. Another area where satellite data could be very useful, which is also very challenging, is to provide detailed bathymetrics and salt characteristics. In deeper waters, I believe this is very difficult, but I think the challenge is there.
In terms of construction and deployment, satellite data can play a role in particular if the satellite frequency is relatively high because then you can monitor deployment processes which have an impact on insurance, warrantees, and costs, enabling deployment optimization. Monitoring deployment processes could be of great value.
In terms of farm operations, forecasting is an important tool for understanding how much energy will be produced, but also for identifying the proper weather windows to perform maintenance. Both of these aspects have a high impact on the operation of offshore windfarms.
One important question is to understand how Space technologies can reduce the environmental impact, and therefore increase the sustainability, of offshore windfarms. I believe they can play a role in two ways. One is early detection of hazards and the identification of their causes. The second is better monitoring of the environmental impact associated with offshore windfarms, its impact on birds, marine mammals, and the wave wake, its impact for instance on the shoreline, or the impact of wind wake on the environment.
As is very often mentioned, one of the problems with windfarms in the ocean is the impact on fishing activities.
Space can play a role, for instance, in the detection of accidents, and fishing vessels’ entry into protected windfarm territory.
This has an impact not only on operations but again on insurance. If you can show that there are more efficient ways to identify types of fishers, it would have an impact on the risk of accidents and therefore on insurance costs. It can then also play a role in monitoring and controlling fishing authorisations and aquaculture activities inside the windfarm’s protected area. The third aspect is that, often, windfarm owners have to pay compensation to fishing vessels for various reasons, one of them is that they force changes to the routing of fishing vessels. Space can trace the routes of fishing vessels and may help give a better and more accurate measure of the real impact of offshore windfarms on fishing activities.
From a broader perspective, we can ask ourselves how space can be used to achieve SDG 7 relating to clean and affordable sustainable energy. I think that space can play a role in increasing evidence that renewable energy environmental impacts are low, produce small hazard impacts and are compatible with other uses of maritime space.
As a final message to the visitors of Space for our Planet, I would say the following: the level of energy consumption in the world is going to increase very significantly due to human population growth and improved living conditions. This means that we need to capture all the energy that we can. Space will allow us to understand what energy resources we can capture and where, how we do it in a cost effective way and also with increasing safety and with small environmental impact.
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