With the rapid growth of the UK’s offshore wind industry, there are thousands of offshore assets that could potentially provide valuable locations and opportunities for environmental data collection. As such, there is an opportunity to develop a process for both retrofitting environmental monitoring devices onto existing assets, and to include sensor provision as part of the manufacturing process and installation of new offshore wind infrastructure. With improved continuous monitoring of the offshore environment, a more detailed picture of the impacts of anthropogenic on the local and macro marine environment can be created.
This project was therefore established to investigate the feasibility of using offshore assets for hosting environmental monitoring sensors. The first phase of the project delivered a technical review of the available technologies that exist in the market currently, and the second phase facilitated a technical engagement process with offshore wind farm developers and environmental sensor manufacturers to determine the technical, practical and logistical considerations of retrofitting and integrating sensors into turbine designs, as well as the potential challenges.
It was found that there are opportunities for using existing and future offshore infrastructure to support wider offshore environmental monitoring, particularly in respect of ornithology, bats, marine mammals, and fish. In many cases further work would be required to address existing practical challenges and uncertainties, therefore collaboration between regulators, key environmental stakeholders, wind farm developers, and sensor manufacturers will be key to addressing these challenges going forward.