Ecowende to build most nature-friendly wind farm to date
Ecowende is going to build a wind farm that will be in harmony with nature, with minimal impact on birds, bats and marine mammals, and with a thriving underwater world. The aim is to enable offshore wind farms to have a net positive impact in the near future. This is a key condition for eventually achieving the ambition of 70 GW of offshore wind energy by 2050 without exceeding the ecological limits of the North Sea. Today, Ecowende presented its holistic approach at WindDay 2023. The joint venture of Shell and Eneco is going to implement various innovations, large-scale mitigating and stimulating ecological measures, and an extensive above and under water monitoring and research programme.
"When putting together our set of measures in consultation with a broad group of experts, we have taken into account the measures that are already being implemented in the wind farms around us as well as the latest scientific findings. Some of the measures will have an immediate impact, while many other are intended to try out new methods and fill knowledge gaps. The knowledge that we possess on the effects of wind farms on nature is not yet complete. This knowledge is indispensable if we want to expand offshore wind energy in the Netherlands in a responsible manner."
A better situation for birds and bats
Ecowende aims to reduce the negative effects of its offshore wind farm through various innovations. These include increasing the height of the lowest tip of the rotor blades, creating a corridor to Natura 2000 area the Brown Bank by placing the turbines extra far apart, and an option to bring the turbines to a standstill that adapts to the flight movements of birds in the wind farm. This way, Ecowende expects to minimise the number of bird and bat collisions. Ecowende will be using different technologies to monitor, investigate and adjust the effectiveness of this approach.
Stimulating the underwater world
Besides reducing the negative impact of its offshore wind farm, Ecowende also aims to implement ecological measures that could contribute to the development of wind farms that have a net positive impact. Ecowende is going to apply several innovative techniques that will help the underwater world to reflourish. Biodegradable reef structures are being constructed using fruit trees sourced from Dutch fruit farms. These tree reefs offer a place for fish to shelter and reproduce. Ecowende will also install various forms of eco-friendly erosion protection and the oyster larvae network will be expanded to spread the native flat oyster population. "Our wind farm will develop into a diverse living environment that functions as a habitat and nursery for many species, including hopefully even sharks and rays," says Hermione van Zutphen, ecology programme manager at Ecowende.
Holistic approach and customisation
Ecowende applies a holistic approach to the construction and operation of the wind farm, and the selection of ecological measures. Visser explains: "The North Sea is an ecosystem, in which everything is interconnected. Measures can therefore not be seen in isolation. Although the effects of measures differ per species and we therefore adapt the measures for each species, we expect synergy to emerge between different measures." Van Zutphen adds: “For example, the North Sea is an important feeding area for seabirds and they too benefit from a flourishing underwater world.”
One of the largest offshore field labs in the world
Gathering and sharing knowledge are key spearheads of Ecowende. Visser: “We link more than 50 years of North Sea experience of our shareholders and partners with the knowledge of leading ecological experts and the innovative capabilities of science. Our wind farm will be one of the largest offshore field labs in the world, where we will experiment with new techniques. In this field lab, we will also give other researchers and startups room to test their innovations in an offshore environment.”
In order to make a real impact and a significant contribution to the roll-out of offshore wind energy in harmony with nature, both in and outside the Netherlands, Ecowende ensures that the knowledge and experience gained on ecology and offshore wind energy will be shared widely. Not only with scientists, policymakers, nature organisations and the general public, but also with other stakeholders, such as wind farm developers.
About Ecowende and Hollandse Kust West
Ecowende's wind farm at Hollandse Kust (west) lot VI will be located some 53 kilometres off the Dutch coast at IJmuiden. With an installed capacity of about 760 MW, Ecowende can ‘green’ about 3% of the current Dutch electricity demand. The wind farm is planned to be commissioned in 2026. Click here for more information about Ecowende, including the full overview of innovations and ecological measures.