Is offshore wind bad for wildlife?
Vattenfall, Sweden’s government-owned power company, has launched a €3 million research programme into the potential environmental impacts of offshore wind farms.
A panel made up of environmental groups and renewable energy companies — including Vattenfall, RSPB Scotland and The Crown Estate — is asking for scientists to apply for funding to study the conditions around the Swedish developer’s European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre.
Environmentalists have long been concerned about the effects of offshore wind turbines on nearby wildlife — here are three of the impacts we’re already aware of.
The noise made during the process of constructing and installing a wind farm could potentially be harmful to marine species. Pile driving, the method used to secure a turbine to the seabed, is particularly loud and may injure fish or marine mammals.
Excess noise can also impede a marine mammal’s ability to process sound.
Collisions with turbine blades
Needless to say, birds and bats can be killed through a direct collision with a turbine blade. There is also a risk of displacing a population if the site of a wind farm forces a shift in migration patterns or otherwise degrades habitat.
Disturbance to the sea bed
Smaller creatures on the ocean floor — among them crabs, lobsters, worms and sponges — may also be disturbed by wind farm construction.
However, wind farms may also have some unexpected environmental benefits. Once constructed, they can increase biological productivity in the surrounding area and provide a habitat for invertebrates, often referred to as an “artificial reef”.
Drax advances biomass strategy with Pinnacle acquisition
The Group’s enlarged supply chain will have access to 4.9 million tonnes of operational capacity from 2022. Of this total, 2.9 million tonnes are available for Drax’s self-supply requirements in 2022, which will rise to 3.4 million tonnes in 2027.
The £424 million acquisition of the Canadian biomass pellet producer supports Drax' ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and will make a "significant contribution" in the UK cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 (click here).
This summer Drax will undertake maintenance on its CfD(2) biomass unit, including a high-pressure turbine upgrade to reduce maintenance costs and improve thermal efficiency, contributing to lower generation costs for Drax Power Station.
In March, Drax secured Capacity Market agreements for its hydro and pumped storage assets worth around £10 million for delivery October 2024-September 2025.
The limitations on BECCS are not technology but supply, with every gigatonne of CO2 stored per year requiring approximately 30-40 million hectares of BECCS feedstock, according to the Global CCS Institute. Nonetheless, BECCS should be seen as an essential complement to the required, wide-scale deployment of CCS to meet climate change targets, it concludes.