The study recommends excluding offshore wind farms and keeping them away from protected areas of the Mediterranean.

This study presents the first assessment of the potential environmental impact of wind farms in the Mediterranean.Credits: University of Barcelona

The marine science and geography science teams at the University of Barcelona, ​​the University of Girona (UdG), the Blanes Center for Advanced Studies (CEAB-CSIC), and the Institute of Marine Sciences (ICM-CSIC) recommend excluding and moving offshore. increase. Wind farms from protected areas of the Mediterranean, as these facilities can have a serious negative impact on marine biodiversity and landscape. This is one of the main conclusions of the team’s paper published in the journal. Comprehensive environmental scienceIncludes the participation of Lecturer Jordi Solé from the Earth and Ocean Dynamics Division of the Faculty of Earth Sciences, UB.

This study provides the first assessment of the potential environmental impact of wind farms in the Mediterranean. Especially, it is evaluated in areas with high ecological vulnerability and high landscape value. As a study case, we analyze large offshore wind farms at Cap de Creus and Rose Bay. There are eight protected marine areas here. The team reviewed nearly 150 papers from around the world. This diagnosis is useful in other Mediterranean regions and other seas and seas around the world, characterized by high diversity, the presence of protected waters, valuable landscapes, and important fishing and tourism activities on a regional scale. Is aimed at.

In particular, this study is the first to fully analyze the various effects these systems can have on the water column. From plankton to the seabed. From crustaceans essential for fishing and fishing to delicate and protected species such as whales, dolphins, turtles and seabirds.

In this article, a large offshore wind farm “with the seabed biodiversity Due to certain ecological and socio-economic characteristics and the vulnerability of this semi-mare clausum, the Mediterranean is “narrower than the Nordic waters but exposed to uneven shelves and threats” for teams in many parts of the Mediterranean. It is known for its high proportion of species and habitats.

Wind farm, complex structure

The structure of wind turbines is complex. Underwater, floating offshore wind turbines (installed in the Mediterranean) require huge mooring and mooring systems that can affect the integrity of the seafloor. Marine mammals can collide or get entangled in wires. In addition, the noise generated by wind farms accumulates along with other sounds from human activities such as sailing, adversely affecting the behavior of marine mammals. In addition, these floating platforms are also attractive to invasive and opportunistic species that can change the fragile balance of biodiversity. Researchers are particularly worried about this phenomenon. Exotic species It affects the Mediterranean more than any other European sea.

In addition, floating wind turbines over 250 meters in height can change the dynamics of the region’s atmosphere and currents. This situation can affect the production of plankton in the ocean, which is usually low in nutrients.

The study also defends the need to maintain marine biodiversity to combat and mitigate climate change. According to the author of the article, marine habitats have great carbon storage potential and are a solution to this problem based on nature itself. For scientists, highly biodiversity ecosystems are the most resistant to the effects of climate change.

Cap de Creus Protected Area

The ecological impact of offshore wind farms is “especially severe in areas of high biodiversity and fragility, such as Cap de Creus and Rose Bay,” the author warns. At this point, there are eight nationally and internationally recognized converging protected areas. According to international agreements, the sea and at least 30% of the sea must be protected by 2030. Researchers say that at this point, this figure in Spain now represents 12%.

This paper warns about the risk of accidents associated with extreme weather events. This will be more common due to climate change. It also warns of problems specific to wind turbines, such as structures falling into the sea or ships colliding. The science team emphasizes that these projects include the industrialization of coastal areas of high landscape value. On the one hand, the capacity of the nearest port needs to be expanded in order to set up the logistics related to the construction and maintenance of offshore wind farms. Meanwhile, the port houses the infrastructure that produces energy from hydrogen. This may entail certain environmental risks, such as the use of water and soil, the release of salt water and hydrogen fruits.

Finally, research shows that the impact is not noticed on the coast alone, but extends to inland and coastal towns. These towns need to house infrastructure (access roads, substations, power lines, or temporary structures) that can damage vulnerable ecosystems, such as wetlands.

Fishing and tourism

The paper states that the elimination of fishing activities (including micro-fishing) in areas affected by offshore wind power plants is dependent on fishermen, fisheries, this sector, coastal communities, and society in general. In addition, cable sounds, vibrations, and electromagnetic fields can echo into the capture.

The authors state that discussions about the potential impact of offshore wind power plants on landscapes will be more intense in the Mediterranean than in northern countries, which is related to the relevance of this sea coast and maritime tourism. I have.For example, the planned wind farm at Cap de Creus will be built between 8 and 30 km from the coast, but in 2019, the average distance of all Marines will be. Wind farm In Europe it was nearly 60 kilometers from the coast. Economically, a study conducted on the Catalan coast calculated a loss of € 203 million in revenue per tourist season.

Other recommendations for protecting the environment

The study concludes with a series of recommendations to policy makers to “rationalize the competition of energy companies for offshore wind farm proposals in the Mediterranean.” According to scientists, they first need to apply the precautionary principle. “As in the case of Costa Brava, we guarantee the highest level of protection of the environment through preventative decision-making in the event of obvious environmental risks.”

The paper also mentions the fulfillment of EU obligations regarding the blue economy. The author supports an ecosystem approach. This means not only the diversity of species and habitats, but also the ecosystem functions of different regions (nursing areas, feeding areas, mobile corridors, etc.) and related ecosystem products and services.

Jet stream models help inform US offshore wind development

For more information:
Josep Lloret et al, Elucidation of the Ecological Impact of Large Offshore Wind Farms in the Mediterranean, Comprehensive environmental science (2022). DOI: 10.1016 / j.scitotenv.2022.153803

Quote: According to the survey, from the Mediterranean protected area (February 23, 2022) acquired on February 23, 2022 from https: // We recommend that you move out of the offshore wind farm. mediterranean.html

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The study recommends excluding offshore wind farms and keeping them away from protected areas of the Mediterranean.

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