In September, the Biden administration announced its “ambitious” plans to expand American offshore wind energy “while advancing environmental justice, protecting biodiversity, and promoting ocean co-use.” A new study has cast significant doubt on whether the White House’s plan and similar initiatives to tackle so-called climate change can be accomplished without creating some substantial negative environmental changes all their own.
In addition to impacting regional atmosphere, “multiple physical, biological, and chemical impacts on the marine system have been identified,” all resultant of these “environmentally jus[t]” solutions.
Previously, researchers had only theorized about the impact of the wind wake effect offshore wind farms had on marine life and ocean conditions. A peer-reviewed study published in the Springer Nature journal “Communications Earth & Environment” revealed that the effects of these wind farms are “substantial.”
What are the details?
The study examined the impact of wind farms in the North Sea, which lies between Great Britain, Norway, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium. Since the sea is shallow and the wind in the region is stable, the North Sea is a “global hotspot for offshore wind energy” and home to the world’s largest offshore wind farm.
The study indicated that “the ongoing offshore wind farm developments can have a substantial impact on the structuring of coastal marine ecosystems on basin scales.”
Wind farms generate “an increase in sediment carbon in deeper areas of the southern North Sea … and decreased dissolved oxygen inside an area with already low oxygen concentration.”
The resultant changes in nutrient concentration could start “a cause-effect chain that translates into changes in primary production and effectively alters the food chain.”
For instance, “the estimated changes in organic sediment distribution and quantity could have an effect on the habitat quality for benthic species such as lesser sandeel … and other benthic species that live in the sediments in the deeper areas of the southern North Sea.”
For the marine ecosystem, these effects might be “severe” and may affect fish and seabird species, marine fauna, and other aspects of the environment.
The severity of wind farm’s effects have been known for some time. A report carried out by the British Trust for Ornithology found “a reduction in annual adult [bird] survival of up to 5% following the construction of an offshore wind farm.”
Townhall highlighted the claim in the study that “economically relevant fish stocks” could see these wind farms “impact the survival of fish early life stages in specific areas” as a result of “variations in the match-mismatch dynamics with their prey or as a consequence of low oxygen conditions.”
The researchers noted that future offshore wind farm installations in the works will have substantial atmospheric and thermodynamic consequences, the full implications of which are presently unclear. However, “scenario simulations provide evidence that the increasing amount of future [offshore wind farm] installations will substantially impact and restructure the marine ecosystem of the southern and central North Sea.”
Consequences in America
This study focused on the impacts of wind farms on ecosystems in and around the North Sea and did not speak to what potential environmental calamity might be wrought by the installations the Biden administration has proposed for the American East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico.
A 2019 report from the international law firm White & Case indicated that wind farms in U.S. waters “have the potential to impact a wide range of marine life, including scallops, quahogs, clams, finfish, marine mammals and sea turtles.”
In addition to these downsides to offshore wind energy, there is also the problem of the farms’ construction.
TheBlaze previously reported that the construction, operation and maintenance of offshore wind farms generate a tremendous amount of pollution. For each 500 megawatt installation, between 12,571 and 18,857 barrels of marine fuel are consumed. That amounts to 1.2% the amount of fuel consumed yearly by Amtrak.
These installations also require maintenance over the course of their 20-year lifespans, which in turn involve the use of a great deal of fossil fuels (renewable energy).
As the turbines are retired over the next 20 years, the U.S. will be left with an estimated 720,000 tons of unrecyclable blade material to dispose of.
The climate alarmist publication Earth.org reported that “intrusive pile-driving, seismic profiling and trenching” during offshore wind farms’ construction not only disturb fish larvae, increase noise levels, and cause sedimentation of the water, but also adversely impact mammals that rely on sound for predation, migration and communication.”
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Author: Joseph MacKinnon
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