The development of the offshore wind industry along the Atlantic coast of the United States has raised concern from the public and throughout New England and the mid-Atlantic, about the potential effects of offshore wind foundations on the marine environment. This white paper provides a summary of currently available science that addresses potential effects of offshore wind foundations on the marine environment and provides a comparison of different foundation types. This summary has been developed to provide information to stakeholders who are concerned about the effect of foundations on marine resources and to explain which foundations are suitable to use under certain conditions.
Public concerns revolving around the potential effects of foundations in the marine environment associated with offshore wind development include:
- Differing degrees of impact depending on the foundation type.
- Direct effects on species from disturbance and/or loss of habitat during installation and operation.
- Alterations of physical processes, such as changes in hydrodynamics (i.e., the movement patterns of water, such as currents) and water quality (i.e., water chemistry, nutrient, and suspended sediment characteristics) that can result in changes in habitat suitability and indirect effects on species.
Some stakeholders recognize that offshore windfarm foundations and associated scour protection act like artificial reefs by providing habitat that supports marine life. The current state of knowledge on this topic is summarized below.