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 these effects for different foundation types. The white paper is not meant to identify a foundation preference as there are many considerations in the selection of a foundation. 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. This white paper replaces the first version published in August 2020 (ICF 2020). Revisions to the white paper include updated information on several foundation types and adds an expanded description of acoustic effects.
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.