A report published by independent, international energy consultancy Xodus Group, and its project partners SMRU Marine, recommends how offshore wind farm operators and regulators can minimize the effects of noise during offshore turbine piling and reduce injury to marine mammals.
The independent review, entitled “Use of Deterrent Devices and Improvements to Standard Mitigation during Piling” was commissioned for Phase 1 of Project 4 of the Offshore Renewables Joint Industry Program (ORJIP). It is the first publication in the ORJIP series to focus on such risks and has been published on the Carbon Trust’s ORJIP website.
The potential risk of injury to marine mammals has been identified as a key consenting risk for offshore wind projects in U.K. waters. Possible consequences of exposure to underwater noise from piling include disturbance, temporary hearing damage and permanent physical injury.
The report has collated and analyzed available evidence of the reliability, cost, effectiveness and technical application of acoustic deterrent devices (ADD) and provides recommendations on the use of deterrent devices and improvements to standard mitigations. The report also provides recommendations for further research and a roadmap for the next phase of the project which is to test and potentially develop ADDs for effective prevention of injury to marine mammals.
Michael Fallon, Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change said, “I welcome the publication of this joint industry and Government report. It is essential that all industry stakeholders continue to work together to implement the report’s recommendations. This will increase the protection given to marine mammals, help us meet our renewable energy targets and encourage more investment in the offshore wind industry.”
Xodus delivers offshore engineering and technical, commercial, safety and environmental services, and this integrated expertise was of benefit to the ORJIP Project 4. To ensure the project balanced the broad range of considerations, and to enable a collaborative approach by industry stakeholders in the decision making process, a formalized decision making process has been adopted, using the Group’s Value, Decision and Risk Management (VDRM) process and software. It allows rigorous, quick, transparent and unbiased assessment of different options and is ideally suited to complex projects with multiple stakeholders.
Alex Herschel, Principal Environmental Consultant with Xodus said, “An independent review such as this provides the ideal foundation to fulfill the aim of the project, which is to achieve an effective, practical, safe, and cost-effective method for ensuring that marine mammals are not injured during offshore piling activity. Compromises may need to be made; however, any improvements to current guidelines, no matter how incremental, have the potential to ultimately make a material difference to the industry.”
“Increasing our current understanding of issues such as species specificity, the potential for habituation and the risk of additional injury or disturbance due to sound from the deterrent devices, have been recommended as fundamental aspects of Project 4 Phase 2.”
Carol Sparling, Principal Scientist with SMRU Marine added, “As a team, we have enjoyed developing this study to progress the improvement of mitigation options as offshore wind development scales up over the coming years. This report pulls together current evidence and knowledge, as well as identifying where gaps exist. We have enjoyed working with Xodus and the various stakeholder groups, and we look forward to helping take the recommendations forward with the offshore wind industry.”