Wind Turbines to Boost Biodiversity in Coral Reefs


Coral Reefs to be grown on Wind Turbines to help with sea life

Wind Turbines to Boost Biodiversity in Coral Reefs
Photo by Nicholas Doherty on Unsplash

The development of non-invasive wind turbines for the growth of coral reefs colonies is a promising way to boost biodiversity, while avoiding environmental impacts. To make this possible, Orsted biologists partnered with academic and private coral experts to develop the ReCoral project. The team has successfully grown juvenile corals on steel and concrete substrates at a test facility in the Orsted’s quayside development.

ReCoral project

In a world first, Orsted is attempting to grow corals on wind turbine foundations to boost biodiversity. The project relies on a non-invasive approach that involves the collection of surplus coral egg bundles. These corals otherwise would not survive in coral ecosystems. The research team also hopes to use the new system to compensate for the effect of coral bleaching, which is a result of global warming.

The ReCoral project will be tested in an open ocean trial in June in Taiwan’s Greater Changhua offshore wind farms. It will involve four separate wind turbine foundations. In the meantime, Orsted will work with Taiwan’s Penghu Marine Biology Research Center to develop a non-invasive method for coral seeding and larvae transport. Once the larvae are attached to wind turbine foundations, they will eventually be grown in a controlled environment

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This is a world first for an offshore wind farm. The Danish energy company plans to plant corals on offshore wind turbine foundations to boost biodiversity. The project will use washed-up coral larvae collected from beaches to grow healthy coral colonies. As the water temperature is relatively constant, the project should reduce the risk of coral bleaching. The project also aims to prevent global warming from destroying tropical coral reef ecosystems.

The ReCoral project is a huge step towards protecting marine ecosystems. Coral reefs are vital to the life of one billion people on earth. They are the source of new food and jobs for local people. And they are also important for the health of the planet. The project’s success could be the start of a global revolution to boost biodiversity. But there are some hurdles to overcome before it gets to that point.

Orsted plans to grow corals on offshore wind turbine foundations, in order to reduce the negative impact on the ecosystem. The project also plans to use the underwater steel structures to grow juvenile corals. In the past, it was found that most of the corals will be in a critical state by 2050. The reefs also help to reduce the force of waves pounding the shoreline.

Impacts of OWFs on marine ecosystems

In addition to determining how OWFs affect ecosystems, it is also necessary to assess whether these developments can mitigate negative effects on the environment. In the North Sea, national development plans may extend beyond 2050. Monitoring long-term potential effects of OWF development is essential for identifying OWFs that are least likely to affect marine ecosystems. There is a long-term lag between that development and the implementation of environmental protection legislation.

The UK’s OWF contributes the largest portion of the EA’s CEA score (70.6%). Other countries contributing a lesser portion include Germany, the Netherlands, and Denmark. The OWFs within the UK’s EEZ have a similar pattern of impacts, peaking between 2020 and 2025. However, the impact of OWFs on fish species in the Dutch and German marine spaces is more variable.

One of the main challenges of studying its effects on marine ecosystems is the mismatch between the spatial scales of the research. Anthropogenic activities can have a global impact, and their transboundary nature poses spatial challenges. In addition, scientists often allocate species to specific areas based on survey data that are collected at discrete locations and moments in time. This approach ignores the fact that many marine species are highly mobile, which complicates the analysis of their abundance.

OWFs have the potential to reduce OM deposition and mineralization processes. In the study, it was found that the combined effects of multiple OWFs reduced the OC load in sediments outside of the OWF. This was partly due to the fact that most OM is mineralized in surficial sediment layers, consuming oxygen.

A combination of these factors resulted in a significant reduction of oxygen in the surrounding waters.

OWFs significantly changed carbon cycling in sediments. In both the current and future scenarios, deposited OC returned less efficiently to the water column. In addition, additional deposition translated into increased anoxic mineralization rates, while oxic mineralization was reduced. As a result, total benthic mineralization increased between 9.7 and 11% within OWFs and 0.2 to 0.5% in surrounding sediments.

Impacts of OWFs on indigenous communities

coral reefs
Photo by Kristin Hoel on Unsplash

The development of offshore wind farms (OWFs) poses a range of challenges in terms of spatial and temporal scales. The cumulative environmental impacts of OWF development over the North Sea basin are the focus of a new study that spans the period from 1999 to 2050. In the North Sea basin, the number of offshore wind farms is set to increase rapidly over the next decade, despite the potential negative impacts on the local ecosystem.

The study also highlights the importance of spatial and temporal patterns in OWF Environmental Impact

Assessments, and therefore, is an important component in future marine planning and protection. It also highlights the need for effective management of the growing impacts of OWF projects. The spatial scales at which projects occur are often inconsistent between regions and countries. The spatial scales of them are largely determined by jurisdictional boundaries, but ecosystems do not have uniform dimensions.

To determine the effects of OWFs on communities, the authors used a model that incorporated cumulative impacts from 1999 to 2050. These simulations are based on the average yearly growth rate of OWFs between 1999 and 2022, as well as the EU’s goal of 212 GWs by 2050. The model only considered impacts from the construction phase, and additional deployments beyond this period would substantially alter the timeline of impacts and their magnitude.

The study also identified extended haloes of altered benthic processing to the northeast of OWFs. These were located along the main direction of residual current and acted as filters for OM. Because OWFs were responsible for the shunting of OM into the sediments, water transported further NE was relatively depleted of OM, thereby decreasing OM deposition and subsequent mineralization processes.

The study focused on negative impacts caused by OWF activities and validated findings through expert questionnaires. The construction phase has the highest impact due to underwater noise, while the operation phase is characterized by lower impact from this type of disturbance. Furthermore, the impacts of OWFs on indigenous communities are not evenly distributed across the phases. This is in part due to the accumulation of disturbances over time. The study is ongoing and is expected to expand as it matures.

Non-invasive project to grow coral colonies on wind turbine foundations

The ReCoral concept combines the advantages of the offshore wind farm with the stability of ocean temperatures, a key factor for the long-term survival of coral. By growing corals close to the water’s surface and sunlight, the ReCoral team hopes to increase biodiversity and reduce the risk of coral bleaching. In a previous project, Orsted marine biologists and private and educational coral specialists collaborated to develop the concept.

They successfully grew juvenile corals on steel and concrete substrates in 2020.

The researchers grew the corals on a steel structure called Biorock. The electrical currents cause dissolved minerals in the water to precipitate onto the steel structures, thereby promoting the growth of shell-bearing organisms like corals. The process also promotes the formation of chemical limestone rock, which is the same mineral as natural coral reefs. Depending on the accretion activity of the steel structures, the process could also result in increased growth rates of the corals.

One of the best places to see these creatures in the wild is in Australia, where Lord Howe Island is located. The ocean is home to more than 4,000 different species of fish and other organisms. These animals cover every square inch of the ocean. They live in reefs and are not invasive. By planting wind turbine foundations with these colonies, the wind energy companies could reduce the environmental impact of wind turbines while increasing biodiversity.

Coral bleaching is a problem that affects the entire ecosystem. It is a major concern among coral reef scientists and managers worldwide.

A successful project could provide a solution to this global problem. By reducing climate change, wind farms could be used as an effective tool for boosting biodiversity. It is an exciting project for conservation efforts and could also boost energy production. Aside from boosting biodiversity, it could help protect the environment.

Provided by Antonio Westley

Disclaimer: This article is meant to be seen as an overview of this subject and not a reflection of viewpoints or opinions as nothing is definitive. So, make sure to do your research and feel free to use this information at your own discretion.

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