Studies have been conducted concerning specific wind farm locations and found the ecological disturbance caused to be sufficiently low to permit construction. Possible effects include disturbing the sea floor during construction (unless floating wind turbines are used). There’s also the possibility of birds colliding with the turbine blades, but these are low compared to fatalities due to other human activities like collisions with cars, airplanes, and plate glass. In addition, that’s a much smaller concern with newer and larger turbines where the blades spin slower. Some disturbance may come from vibration and noise originating from the turbines. Viewed in perspective against effects of burning an equivalent effect of fossil fuels, however, these are hardly worth mentioning.
While offshore wind is a relatively new technology, the ecosystem impacts of wind energy in general are fairly well-understood and though to be very small where they do occur. A common misconception surrounding wind power is the idea that it poses a significant danger to birds; while some early wind farms using technology very different from that in use today and sited in major bird migration areas have experienced problems with bird mortality, the idea that wind power poses a major threat to birds or wildlife in general, other than in a handful of specific cases, has been largely debunked within scientific communities. Since the technology used for offshore wind power is largely the same as onshore turbines, it can be reasonably expected that any impacts on ocean ecosystems will be of a similar nature. Moreover, all wind power projects, both onshore and offshore, are required to undergo an extensive permitting and environmental planning and review process in order to identify and mitigate any potential ecosystem effects.
Especially when compared to the effects of fossil fuel consumption on oceanic ecosystems, including the release of oil and gas into marine environments, ocean acidification and acid rain and their impacts on coral reefs and plankton, and the effects of global warming on raising ocean temperatures and destroying critical polar habitats, the impacts of offshore wind on oceanic ecosystems appears to be negligible.
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