New £7m research to address effect of offshore wind farms on marine ecosystems

The four-year programme will provide evidence to inform marine policy and management as the offshore wind sector ramps up to deliver 40GW of capacity by 2030

Pathway to COP26 report

A new £7 million research programme to address the effect of offshore wind farms on marine ecosystems in the UK has been launched.

The ECOWind (Ecological Consequences of Offshore Wind) programme, a joint initiative led by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) in partnership with The Crown Estate, seeks to address the critical gap in understanding how marine ecosystems will respond to the continued growth of offshore wind farms.

That includes climate change and human activities such as fishing and in particular, it will focus on how populations and inter-species interactions are responding to offshore wind deployment and how marine observations can be enhanced through innovative technologies to improve understanding.

The four-year project has been launched as the sector ramps up to deliver 40GW of offshore wind by 2030.

The findings will inform key decision-makers in the management of UK waters to help achieve the UK’s commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050, whilst also ensuring net environmental gain and marine environmental restoration.

ECOWind will work in collaboration with the Offshore Wind Evidence and Change programme, which facilitates the sustainable and co-ordinated expansion of offshore wind to help meet the UK’s low carbon commitments and support clean, healthy, productive and biologically diverse seas.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “The UK is a leader in marine protection and this pioneering research programme will ensure that we continue to work towards achieving clean and biologically diverse seas.

“This collaboration will build on the work of the Offshore Wind Evidence and Change Programme and inform plans to develop more clean energy while ensuring we protect our precious marine life.”

If you enjoyed this story you can sign up to our weekly email for Energy Live News – and if you’re interested in hearing more about the journey to net zero by 2050, you can also sign up to the future Net Zero newsletter. 

Latest Podcast