Environmental impacts of offshore renewables

Knowledge of impacts from offshore windfarm developments on the marine environment and its many natural features is rapidly increasing, but we are still lacking data, long term effect monitoring and sufficient evidence. Based on current understanding, unless developed sustainably, offshore wind farms may have substantial impacts on biodiversity and the health of the marine environment.

OSPAR established a group on Offshore Renewable Energy Developments (ICG-ORED) in 2021 which is taking the lead in progressing tasks and actions related to OSPAR’s North-East Atlantic Environmental Strategy 2030 Operational Objective S12.O4: By 2023, OSPAR will develop common principles and by 2024 develop guidance to promote and facilitate sustainable development and scaling up of offshore renewable energy in a way that cumulative environmental impacts are minimised.

To achieve its aims, ICG-ORED has developed a set of initial tasks for 2022-2024:

1. To develop draft common principles for a regional sea approach.

2. To conduct a pilot on marine birds as a start for developing a regional seas approach. ICG-ORED will collaborate with OSPAR Biodiversity Committee and in particular the Marine Bird Expert Group.

3. To develop and apply a time-bound working plan elaborating on the mentioned activities, milestones and planning.

Offshore renewables database

Whilst the majority of renewable developments in the OSPAR Maritime Area are large scale wind farms, commercial scale tidal and wave developments are now also being considered and implemented. OSPAR has therefore expanded its offshore renewables data to include all marine renewable developments.

Map available here: https://odims.ospar.org/en/maps/832/