The impact of offshore wind farms on marine biodiversity

Offshore wind turbine

Foto: Karolina Reducha Andersen

The Ph.D. project aims to investigate how the massive expansion of offshore wind turbines will impact the marine benthic biodiversity, which is already under pressure, and aims to contribute to filling an important research knowledge gap.

In the project, experiences and data are collected and validated from several existing offshore wind farms in selected Danish sea areas, while new data from multiple field expeditions to Danish offshore wind turbines will be compared. Finally, the project aims to improve the content and methods for future environmental impact assessments, as well as to ensure effective and long-term monitoring of offshore wind farms.

Despite 20 years of offshore wind development, environmental assessments today are often based on expectations, as experiences from established offshore wind farms are still limited. In light of the ongoing biodiversity crisis, mainly due to the scarcity of space in nature, the extensive expansion of offshore wind will undoubtedly have an impact, whether negative or positive, on marine ecosystems.

Karolina På Hug
Foto: Nikolaj R. Andersen

Project start: September 2023

Projekt done by: August 2026  

BU/department/ industry to which the project is associated: Environment

Cooperation-partners: Aarhus University, Innovationsfonden

The project, named BIOWIND, collects and validates experiences and data from several existing offshore wind farms in selected Danish marine areas to enhance understanding of how these installations affect the macrobenthic biodiversity (infauna and epifauna >1 mm, living on or in the seabed within an offshore wind farm as well as on the foundation, including macroalgae) in our seas, in terms of changes in species composition and occurrence.

A wide range of collection methods (eDNA and conventional methods) combined with historical data from existing offshore wind farms will be used as a basis for comparison. The project aims to contribute to improved methods for future environmental impact assessments and biomonitoring of offshore wind farms.

More about the project

Project status: Ongoing

5 key words about the project: Biodiversity, offshore wind farms, benthic fauna & flora, environmental impact assessment, biomonitoring

Educational background: MSc in biology

Hopes for future work in the project: The project contributes to filling an important research knowledge gap by describing the benthic biodiversity in offshore wind farms. The goal is ultimately to mitigate negative impacts and promote synergy between artificial structures and marine biodiversity when wind farms are established. This approach will pave the way for future wind farm projects.

The importance of collaborating with NIRAS: To ensure that the latest knowledge resulting from this project is quickly put into use in the form of improved environmental impact assessments and efficient monitoring of offshore wind farms, it is crucial that the project is carried out in close collaboration with a consulting firm specializing in these areas. NIRAS' expertise in offshore wind and environmental impact assessments ensures that research is targeted towards specific issues and that solutions can be implemented efficiently and effectively. This is particularly important regarding the current issue if one wishes to ensure that biodiversity is not overlooked in the vast areas of sea designated for offshore wind farms.

Get in touch

Karolina Reducha Andersen

Karolina Reducha Andersen

PhD Student

Allerød, Denmark

+45 5339 7234

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