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Wind Energy reef

Published on January 19th, 2010 | by Susan Kraemer

9

Marine Life Flourishing Beneath Off-Shore Wind Turbines

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January 19th, 2010 by  

Not only do off-shore wind turbines not harm marine life, but they actively encourage more of it, a very encouraging study has just concluded, after closely following the effects of the off-shore wind farms being built off the European coast.

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A Swedish Scientist at the Stockholm University’s Zoology Department studying the effects of off-shore wind turbines discovered that marine life has become more abundant and diverse near the foundations.  Dan Wilhelmsson found that offshore wind turbines constitute habitats for fish, crabs, mussels, lobsters and plants. The seabed in the vicinity of the wind turbines had higher densities of fish compared to further away from the turbines and in control areas. This was despite that the natural bottoms were rich in boulders and algae. Blue mussels dominated on the wind turbines that appeared to offer good growth conditions.

“Hard surfaces are often hard currency in the ocean, and these foundations can function as artificial reefs. Rock boulders are often placed around the structures to prevent erosion (scouring) around these, and this strengthens the reef function,” says Dan Wilhelmsson.

Not only were the foundations giving a boost to marine life, but interestingly, we might be able to build-in features to them in such a way as to enhance conditions to favor those species that need more protection.

“With wind and wave energy farms, it should be possible to create large areas with biologically productive reef structures, which would moreover be protected from bottom trawling. By carefully designing the foundations it would be possible to favor and protect important species, or, conversely, to reduce the reef effects in order minimize the impact on an area,” says Dan Wilhelmsson.

Come to think of it, this shouldn’t come as such a surprise. There are many instances of sunken boats, planes and other metal and concrete objects having been thoroughly repurposed by the creatures of the deep for their own needs. We already use artificial reefs to rebuild populations of marine life.

Image: Flikr user Shappell

Source: Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

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About the Author

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today, PV-Insider , SmartGridUpdate, and GreenProphet. She has also been published at Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.



  • ND M

    AWSOME

  • http://greenenergyreporter.com Green Energy Reporter

    The results of the study are pretty staggering: fish densities were twice as high near the wind turbine platforms as further away. This could do a lot for the offshore wind’s image.

    http://greenenergyreporter.com/2010/01/boosting-offshore-winds-eco-image-one-fish-at-a-time/

    • http://www.xanthusenergy.com Lewis Lack

      Good to see this evidence published. All offshore wind farms must present details to the permitting organisations about how they will remove the foundations at the end of the wind farm life. They even have to put aside money for this activity. This article is a good basis to say why would we ever remove foundations after 20-50 years of marine life building up around them. It is time to take a different view and reduce the cost of offshore wind by removing the need to put cash aside for removing foundations.

      • http://cleantechnica.com/author/susan Susan Kraemer

        Oh, that is interesting. I didn’t know that. This is just in Europe I assume, since we here are not even at that stage yet. Yes, it would seem that it is a shortsighted rule. I wonder if offshore oil platforms have to be removed too?

  • http://greenenergyreporter.com Green Energy Reporter

    The results of the study are pretty staggering: fish densities were twice as high near the wind turbine platforms as further away. This could do a lot for the offshore wind’s image.

    http://greenenergyreporter.com/2010/01/boosting-offshore-winds-eco-image-one-fish-at-a-time/

  • http://GlobalPatriot.com Global Patriot

    I can envision marine parks where wind turbines capture energy above the water and sea creatures thrive below!

  • http://GlobalPatriot.com Global Patriot

    I can envision marine parks where wind turbines capture energy above the water and sea creatures thrive below!

  • Chris V

    It’s also likely that fishing boats steer clear of the turbines.

  • Chris V

    It’s also likely that fishing boats steer clear of the turbines.

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