Wind farms create clean energy but can disrupt marine animals
The findings of a new study could help reduce the environmental impact of offshore wind farm construction and conserve and manage marine ecosystems.
More and more countries are shifting their attention towards renewable energy sources like solar and wind power. In the race to mitigate climate change and reduce emissions, finding alternative yet sustainable energy is critical.
A team of researchers from Germany, Denmark, and the UK created a new model that measures the future impact of wind farm operations on marine animals which could play an important role in future wind farm construction.
The researchers published their findings in the journal Conservation Letters.
Whether planning an offshore wind farm or adding solar panels to your home, it’s important to consider the environmental impacts of “clean energy.” In the case of wind farms, the noise of the construction and day-to-operations could be harmful to marine animals.
For the study, a model was created that examines the potential impacts of exposure to noise pollution from wind farm operations. The researchers tested the model on the Northern Sea harbor porpoise population to show just how disrupting wind farm noise could be.
The model, named DEPONS, incorporates data on how noise and other disruptors impact and drive animal movements, foraging, and energetics. Although the researchers used porpoises to show the capabilities of the model, DEPONS is applicable to many different marine species.
The researchers assessed the impact of wind farm construction on the North Sea harbor porpoise population by first monitoring population density during the construction of a Dutch offshore wind farm in the region.
After recording echolocation sounds during construction, which is how the portoises navigate through the waters, the researchers created a virtual landscape that mirrored the Dutch wind farm and simulated the noise the wind farm generated.
The simulated wind farm showed the researchers how noise pollution from wind farms would impact the porpoise populations under different scenarios.
The model could help predict the impact of wind farm construction on other marine species and could be a critical tool for future marine management.