EU and Aberdeen Bay developer hand out £3m in offshore wind farm research projects

The socio-economic impact of offshore wind farms is also to be investigate as part of a £3 million scientific research and monitoring fund to study the environmental effects of offshore wind in a real-time environment.

Believed to be the largest-scale offshore wind research programme of its kind and one which will put Scotland at the industry forefront of research and development, the diverse range of projects selected will be based at the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre in Aberdeen Bay.

Scotland’s largest offshore wind test and demonstration facility, the 11-turbine EOWDC is scheduled to generate first power in Summer 2018.

The successful recipients of a share in the dedicated £3 million fund, up to half of which is being provided by the European Union, include:

The River Dee Trust, Aberdeenshire, and Marine Scotland Science – Assessing the interactions between salmon and sea trout with offshore wind technology. The project aims to help provide unknown information on the extent to which offshore wind farms influence salmon and sea trout.

SMRU Consulting and the University of St Andrews: – Improving understanding of bottlenose dolphin movements along the east coast of Scotland. The project involves undertaking a comprehensive study of bottlenose dolphin movements throughout the development and part of the operational phase of the EOWDC to offer greater insight into bottlenose dolphins.

MacArthur Green, Glasgow: Measuring connectivity between auk special protection areas populations and offshore wind farms, and tracking non-breeding season movements of adult auks. The project aims to demonstrate that this could reduce future uncertainty in impact assessments and improve understanding of how auks engage and co-exist with Offshore Wind Farms. This project will fund a PhD student to work with the research team.

Oxford Brookes University:The socio-economic impact of offshore wind on the human environment. The project will analyse the socio-economic effects of the EOWDC from the construction stage through to becoming fully operational to help better understand how offshore wind developments can be maximised to benefit the region and local communities.

A spokesman for the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre explained: “The announcement of these successful projects – including three in Scotland – is an exciting one with each having the potential to unlock fascinating new insights into the offshore wind environment and determine influencing environmental factors.

“The 92.4MW EOWDC test and demonstration facility offers an unmissable opportunity to conduct this pioneering research and monitoring programme. We are pleased to be facilitating such innovative research in Grampian region which will bring considerable benefits to the area as well as the industry and policy-making.”

Almost 100 applications from across the UK and overseas were submitted for the research programme with a shortlist of 16 selected by a specialist scientific panel comprised of environmental agencies, scientists, AREG and representatives of Vattenfall.

Professor Stuart Gibb, chairman of the Scientific Panel and director of the Environmental Research Institute at Highlands university, said: “We believe those projects that have been successful will effectively inform development of the EOWDC facility and deliver real, tangible data that increases our understanding of the relationship between offshore renewable energy developments and the environment.

“Such knowledge will be highly effective in informing future planning and consenting activities.”

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