chapter  6
30 Pages

Assessing Environmental Impacts of Offshore Wind Farms: Lessons Learned and Recommendations for the Future

Efforts to reduce carbon emissions and increase production from renewable energy sources have led to rapid growth in offshore wind energy generation, particularly in northern European waters [1,2]. The first commercial scale offshore wind farm, Horns Rev 1 (160 MW with 80 turbines of 2 MW), became operational in 2002. The average capacity of turbines and size of offshore wind farms have been increasing since then, and they are being installed in deeper waters further from the coast. By the end of 2013, operational wind farms were in an average water depth of 16 m and 29 km from shore in Europe [3] (Figure 1). With technological advances in the future [4] there is likely to be a continued increase in the size of offshore wind projects [3], but there are still uncertainties about the effects on the environment [5]. The novelty of the technology and construction processes make it difficult to identify all of the stressors on marine species and to estimate the effect of these activities [6].