Denmark

Denmark

Marine life thrives at offshore plant

Marine life thrives around offshore wind plant, according to the findings of two Scandinavian studies carried out at one plant in Denmark and two in Sweden.

The National Environmental Research Institute of Denmark (NERI) monitored a group of harbour seals and grey seals in their sanctuary, a sandbank on Rødsand in the Baltic Sea, close to the spot where 72, Bonus 2.3 MW turbines were erected for the Nysted Offshore Wind Farm last summer. With the help of aerial surveys and video cameras on a mast at the sanctuary -- about five kilometres from the coast -- NERI has followed the seals since work began on foundation installation.

From NERI's observations through to the end of Nysted's construction, the seals have not been visibly affected, according to Danish news wire service Ritzau. Indeed, it was during seabed work for the turbines in February last year that NERI first observed two grey seal pups -- a species that disappeared from Danish waters 100 years ago. Today Rødsand has about 25 grey seals. NERI's seal studies, paid for by Danish SEAS Transmission, will continue at Rødsand until 2005.

Meanwhile, researchers from the University of Stockholm have found no signs that two, small offshore wind farms in Sweden's Kalmar strait -- the 10.5 MW Utgrunden and 10 MW Yttre Stengrund developments -- have had a negative effect on avian or marine life. On the contrary, the number of animal and plant species has grown in the years after the turbines were erected. Marine Biologist Marcus Öman told one Swedish newspaper that the turbines' foundations seem to act as an artificial reef where mussels and other living organisms can lodge. Fish populations have also grown around the turbines, Öman says.

Bird studies at the site have found that only one single bird has been killed after flying into a rotor, but that hundreds of thousands of birds on what is a "highway" for migrating birds have otherwise changed their flight patterns to miss the rotating turbines (Windpower Monthly, June 2001).

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