Offshore wind parks are kind to animals
AMSTERDAM – Offshore windmills have no major adverse impact on life, in or out of the water, says a report by 3 independent research organizations. In fact, wind parks create new habitats. Research to date shows “no need for major changes in the development of more wind farms in the open sea,” provided sensitive bird areas are avoided, concludes the 5-year study of NoordzeeWind, a Dutch offshore wind park (photo) that powers 100,000 households.50
The noise and motion of rotor blades and the park’s 36 windmill pylons _ standing in 17 to 20m of water _ cause “no short-term effects” on the environment, the study found. “Only minor effects upon ﬁsh assemblages have been observed. Some ﬁsh species, such as cod, seem to ﬁnd shelter inside the farm. More porpoise clicks were recorded inside the farm than … outside.” The report, presented to the 2012 Offshore Wind & Ecology Congress in Amsterdam, found no impact on the behavior of sole. Its findings echo those of a 2012 Belgian wind park survey. Both say fish flourish in offshore wind parks where because fishing is banned there and the pylons generate aquatic life that is food for fish. NoordzeeWind, a venture of Shell and the Nuon power company, has been operating since 2007. The study also reported these findings:
_ BIRDS: 5 million birds come near the wind farm annually. Most avoid it. Only 0.01% of birds flying into the park are hit by blades. Cormorants love wind parks: in large numbers they sit on turbine platforms and spread their wings to dry them.
_ MARINE MAMMALS: No effects were found on seals that thrive across the North Sea so that the impact of a wind farm of only 27 km2 is not evident. However porpoises, lured by food and quiet, appear in the park in bigger numbers than outside
_ SEABED FAUNA: No effect on seabed life in sandy areas, likely because young shellfish only mature once every 5 to 10 years. “However, other species have been found on the pillars and on the stones surrounding the pillars, which has led to increased local biodiversity.”
U P D A T E : Oct. 18, 2012
The Dutch recreational yachting sector wants windmills _ well, the eye-sores that are installed these days, that is _ banned from Dutch waterways. That is a problem. The government has plans for wind parks in prime sailing areas: the northeast, the lakes in the heart of the country and the water-laced southwestern province of Zeeland.
“Generating electricity from wind is an industrial activity,” says HISWA spokeswoman Gerdina Krijger. HISWA fears unsightly windmills will harm the boating sector. “The newest turbines have a diameter of 15-m and stand 200-m tall. On a clear day they are visible 20-m away from the open waters that appeal to boaters,” she says. “We fear recreational boaters will go elsewhere. That will have a major economic impact for the boating industry and the local economy.” One area of concern to HISWA and others: a windpark is planned for an area in the IJsselmeer, the vast lake in the heart of the Netherlands, just south of the Afsluitdijk causeway that keeps the sea out.