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Offshore Wind Power for Marine Conservation


Affiliations
1 Department of Energy and Environment, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden
2 Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
 

The seas of northern Europe are strongly affected by human activities and there is a great need for improved marine conservation. The same region is also the current hotspot for offshore wind power development. Wind farms can have negative environmental impacts during construction, but during the operational phase many organisms are attracted to the foundations and thereby may also find refuge from fisheries. Given the recent implementation of marine spatial planning in Europe and elsewhere, this is a critical time to address potential compatibility and synergies between marine conservation and wind power. This review concludes that offshore wind farms can be at least as effective as existing marine protected areas in terms of creating refuges for benthic habitats, benthos, fish and marine mammals. The degree of advantage for these organisms depends on the location of the wind farm and the level of imposed fishing restriction. Under certain conditions wind farms may even be more efficient means of conservation than ordinary marine protected areas. However, offshore wind farms can be negative for several species of seabirds, essentially as occupying preferred feeding or wintering grounds. In areas important to these seabirds wind farms may not comply with conservation. The results bring important messages to marine spatial planning as some but not all wind farms can be spatially combined with, and even synergistic to, marine conservation.

Keywords

Marine Conservation, Offshore Wind Power, Marine Spatial Planning, Marine Management.
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  • Offshore Wind Power for Marine Conservation

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Authors

Linus Hammar
Department of Energy and Environment, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden
Diana Perry
Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
Martin Gullstroem
Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract


The seas of northern Europe are strongly affected by human activities and there is a great need for improved marine conservation. The same region is also the current hotspot for offshore wind power development. Wind farms can have negative environmental impacts during construction, but during the operational phase many organisms are attracted to the foundations and thereby may also find refuge from fisheries. Given the recent implementation of marine spatial planning in Europe and elsewhere, this is a critical time to address potential compatibility and synergies between marine conservation and wind power. This review concludes that offshore wind farms can be at least as effective as existing marine protected areas in terms of creating refuges for benthic habitats, benthos, fish and marine mammals. The degree of advantage for these organisms depends on the location of the wind farm and the level of imposed fishing restriction. Under certain conditions wind farms may even be more efficient means of conservation than ordinary marine protected areas. However, offshore wind farms can be negative for several species of seabirds, essentially as occupying preferred feeding or wintering grounds. In areas important to these seabirds wind farms may not comply with conservation. The results bring important messages to marine spatial planning as some but not all wind farms can be spatially combined with, and even synergistic to, marine conservation.

Keywords


Marine Conservation, Offshore Wind Power, Marine Spatial Planning, Marine Management.