Offshore wind farms promote biodiversity

The Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) presented a study at the end of October this year on how offshore wind energy parks affect biodiversity in the North and Baltic Sea.

In the investigation, the authority concluded that the foundations of the wind turbines form artificial reefs, around which seashells, starfish, sea anemones, sea lilies, and fish such as mackerel and long-spined bullheads settle.
The danger to seabirds was also lower than expected. The movements and lighting of wind turbines seem to scare birds and therefore reduce the risk of collision.

The test site “Alpha Ventus,” 45 kilometers off the island of Borkum, was used for the study. At the wind farm, which was commissioned in 2010, novel methods such as fish sounders and digital imaging systems were used, in which software analyzed bird movements.
Follow-up data showed no effect on strictly protected marine mammals such as porpoises. The animals avoided the wind farm field during pile driving, but returned after completion of construction.

According to federal government plans, wind farms with a total of 25 gigawatts (GW) of power should be installed by 2030. The BSH is responsible for authorization and environmental concerns. Based on current study results, the authority shall set a standard (“StUK4”), which will be binding in future for the builders of offshore wind turbines.

In the 12-mile zone of the offshore wind farm RIFFGAT (ENOVA & EWE AG), a settlement of European lobsters is to be explored as part of a pilot project. Researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven already began raising about 3000 lobsters at the beginning of this year. They are to be reintroduced into the wild in the foreseeable future. The project will provide information on whether lobsters can successfully settle between wind turbines.