The Ørsted, Falck Renewables, BlueFloat Energy consortium currently bidding for offshore wind leases for floating wind projects has announced a link up with the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) to investigate the potential effects of floating wind developments on the marine environment.
Areas under discussion for future research projects if the consortium’s ScotWind bids are successful range from investigating how fishing interests and offshore wind can work together to a study into how fish, marine mammals and seabirds interact with floating offshore wind farms.
Mike Spain, Head of SAMS Enterprise, said: “Given SAMS’ wide research portfolio, we have an interest in contributing to the resolution of several data gaps in floating offshore wind research. Collaboration with Falck Renewables, Ørsted and BlueFloat Energy will allow for some of these issues to be explored in detail, which would be of great benefit to the wider sector and to other stakeholders.”
Duncan Clark, Head of Region UK at Ørsted, said: “The potential for generating power from floating offshore wind as we move towards a net zero world is immense. With all new technology it is vital to ensure that it is carefully designed with the environment in mind and that we fully understand any effects it might have on the marine ecosystem and how to avoid and mitigate them.
“This work with SAMS aligns with Ørsted’s strong commitment to protect biodiversity, having announced earlier this year our ambition to deliver a net-positive biodiversity impact from all new renewable energy projects we commission from 2030 at the latest.”
Research into how floating offshore wind can operate alongside the existing fishing industry has also been proposed with the aim of improving understanding of how fisheries operate at a small scale and how the two industries can work together.
Richard Dibley, Managing Director of Falck Renewables Wind Ltd, said: "At Falck Renewables our track record is of working as closely as possible with the communities around our developments. We’re currently carrying out a consultation into how Scottish communities could benefit from community ownership of offshore wind and a similar study to work out how the fishing industry and the offshore wind could peacefully and profitably coexist fits in well with our approach.”
Future studies could also focus on increasing the role of marine robotics in collecting data before and after the construction of floating offshore wind farms at remote sites.
Carlos Martin, CEO of BlueFloat Energy, said: “Floating wind is fast emerging as a game changer for the energy transition and we are at the forefront of the technology evolution. We believe it is vital to collect more data and improve our understanding of the effects it has on the surrounding environment. With floating developments well suited to being sited far offshore research into the use of robotics in collecting data will be invaluable.”