Offshore wind-power plants not only aren’t bad for fauna – they might actually bring benefits, including providing new habitat for various sea creatures. That’s the surprising conclusion of researchers from the Dutch university and research center Wageningen UR, the consultancy Bureau Waardenburg and the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research.

A few caveats come with this research: It focused on just one offshore wind plant, a 36-turbine operation 10 to 18 kilometers off the Holland coast in the North Sea. Also, the research was financed by the joint venture between Shell and Dutch energy company Nuon that built the Egmond aan Zee Wind Farm. That said, the report was published in the peer-reviewed journal “Environmental Research Letters.”

Dutch offshore wind-power study, environmental impact
image via Nuon

The researchers said their study on the short-term effects of the plant found it “provides a new natural habitat for organisms living on the sea bed such as mussels, anemones, and crabs, thereby contributing to increased biodiversity.” The widely spaced turbines also provided “an oasis of calm in a relatively busy shipping area,” the researchers said, noting that “some fish species, such as cod, seem to find shelter inside the farm. More porpoise clicks were recorded inside the farm than in the reference areas outside the farm.”

As for birds, “Several bird species seem to avoid the park while others are indifferent or are even attracted,” the researchers reported. Although they said they observed few bird-blade collisions, the researchers did conclude that “rotating blades can also have a significant disruptive effect on some species of birds,” and suggested that “by choosing the location (of wind farms) appropriately, these effects can be minimized.”

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