Finding the space for green energy at scale

Building renewable energy technologies at scale will protect natural ecosystems from the consequences of climate change and benefit the local economies that invest in renewable energy. To succeed, the build-out must be balanced with the interests of other industries and the interests for nature protection.


Fossil fuel-based power generation requires relatively little surface area. The fuels are extracted from under the ground transported to power plants, and then incinerated.

With renewable energy, it’s different. It’s often a local resource, which is harvested in nature close to where it’s consumed. This takes up more space.

The same is true for offshore wind, although offshore wind farms don’t necessarily exclude other use of ocean space. Wind turbines, cables, and other installations only cover a small proportion of the total wind farm area. When activities can co-locate safely, this leaves plenty of room for other purposes, whether it’s ensuring that ecosystems and biodiversity thrive or supporting use by other marine industries, such as shipping lanes, defence activities, other energy generation, fishing or aquaculture.

Finding the space for renewable energy is vital to the future health of our planet. To succeed, co-use of offshore wind areas must be explored and enabled, and co-existence with nature is a must.

Offshore wind requires space

  

"A global build-out of offshore can help halt climate change. Today, it is not wind energy that puts marine biodiversity under pressure. If the oceans are healthy, and biodiversity is protected when the wind turbines are installed, there are no obstacles to building much more offshore wind."

Jan Vande Putte
Energy & Nuclear Campaigner
Greenpeace

  

Our approach to co-use
When a marine space is designated for developing an offshore wind farm, it’s important to strike the right balance on how to use the maritime space. At Ørsted, we collaborate with authorities, ocean industry peers, local communities, and environmental NGOs to enable the necessary knowledge and decisions.

We contributed to establishing the UN Global Compact principles for sustainable oceans. The principles provide a framework for all marine industries to protect and restore the health of the ocean. We’re also part of a coalition to scale up ocean-based renewable energy, in line with the Paris Agreement.

Offshore wind co-exists with healthy
fisheries

Ørsted has established an ongoing cooperation with the local fishing industry around our UK offshore wind farm Westermost Rough, inaugurated in 2015. The wind farm is sited in highly productive fishing grounds for lobster and crab. Our environmental impact assessment predicted some impacts on lobster and crab populations from the construction.

To understand these impacts better and safeguard the local fishing industry, we’re carrying out a long-term scientific study to examine the impact on these shellfish stocks. This is the first study of its kind. The results to date confirm that shellfish populations were not negatively affected by construction and illustrate that offshore wind and fisheries can co-exist in the UK North Sea.

Positive and negative effects on marine environments

Offshore wind farms can have positive and negative effects on the local marine environment. When installed, the underwater foundations and scour protection material function as home for certain marine species such as algae and mussels. These species grow on the structures and attract crabs and fish that are prey for marine mammals such as dolphins and seals. The impact is to increase local marine biodiversity.

At the same time, temporary noise impact on sensitive species such as marine mammals, and impacts on coastal habitats, can occur when installing foundations and transmission cables. When in operation, offshore wind farms can affect certain bird species that migrate or feed in or near the area.
  

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Striking the balances of
the green transformation

The green transformation will fundamentally change how we generate energy to power our lives.
Building green energy systems requires balancing different and sometimes contradictory needs.