The northeast of Scotland is poised to become the global center for offshore wind scientific research, following the announcement this week from Swedish power company Vattenfall, which announced the successful projects that will take part in a €3m research program at its European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre.
The European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) in Aberdeen Bay, Scotland, is a 92.4 megawatt (MW), 11 turbine offshore wind test and demonstration facility. The EOWDC was even constructed in a way which served as a demonstration, built with Vestas V164-8.4MW turbines on top of suction bucket foundations, an industry first.
Though the EOWDC will play a big role in the offshore wind industry, it also briefly found itself headline news around the world, by virtue of a lawsuit that Donald Trump, now US President, took out against the developers for building an offshore wind farm where it could be seen from his Trump International Golf Club. Thankfully for all, the case was thrown out by the UK Supreme Court back in December of 2015.
In November of last year, Vattenfall — the owner of the EOWDC — announced that it had shortlisted offshore wind projects for a €3 million scientific research program to investigate the environmental impacts of offshore wind, to be conducted at the EOWDC. This week, Vattenfall announced the winners of the process, part of what is believed to be the world’s largest-scale offshore wind research program, and one which will likely make Scotland a global center for such research in the future.
“The announcement of these successful projects, including three in Scotland, is an exciting one with each having the potential to unlock fascinating new insights into the offshore wind environment and determine influencing environmental factors,” said Adam Ezzamel, EOWDC project director at Vattenfall. “The 92.4MW EOWDC test and demonstration facility offers an unmissable opportunity to conduct this pioneering research and monitoring programme. We are pleased to be facilitating such innovative research in the North-east which will bring considerable benefits to the region as well as the industry and policy-making.”
From almost a hundred applications across the UK and around the world, Vattenfall narrowed it down to a shortlist of 16, and then down to the successful final four. They are:
- The River Dee Trust, Aberdeenshire, and Marine Scotland Science – Assessing the interactions between salmon and sea trout with offshore wind technology. The project aims to help provide unknown information on the extent to which offshore wind farms influence salmon and sea trout.
- SMRU Consulting and the University of St Andrews, both St Andrews – Improving understanding of bottlenose dolphin movements along the east coast of Scotland. The project involves undertaking a comprehensive study of bottlenose dolphin movements throughout the development and part of the operational phase of the EOWDC to offer greater insight into bottlenose dolphins.
- MacArthur Green, Glasgow – Measuring connectivity between auk special protection areas populations and offshore wind farms, and tracking non-breeding season movements of adult auks. As such, the project aims to demonstrate that this could reduce future uncertainty in impact assessments and improve understanding of how auks engage and co-exist with Offshore Wind Farms. This project will fund a PhD student to work with the research team.
- Oxford Brookes University, Oxford – The socio-economic impact of offshore wind on the human environment. The project will analyze the socio-economic effects of the EOWDC from the construction stage through to becoming fully operational to help better understand how offshore wind developments can be maximized to benefit the region and local communities.
“The panel were delighted with the response to programme call, and received many proposals supported by strong research teams involving some of the most prominent experts in their respective fields,” said Professor Stuart Gibb, chair of the Scientific Panel Professor and Director of the Environmental Research Institute at the University of the Highlands and Islands.
“We believe those projects that have been successful will effectively inform development of the EOWDC facility and deliver real, tangible data that increases our understanding of the relationship between offshore renewable energy developments and the environment. Such knowledge will be highly effective in informing future planning and consenting activities.”
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