Offshore wind energy will substantially contribute to future energy generation. However, the use of wind energy in marine areas has implications for marine ecosystems. The results of more than a decade of ecological research concerning offshore wind farms in Germany and abroad have revealed potential negative impacts of offshore wind farms, particularly with regards to seabirds, migrating terrestrial birds, and marine mammals such as harbor porpoises, especially by noise effects during installation of the turbines. Depending on the location of the wind farm, effects on bat populations are also possible. Impact on fish and benthic species are probably less relevant. There are even examples of positive (local) effects on marine biodiversity, for example, due to the introduction of a new hard substrate into ecosystems or the exclusion of fishing from the area of the offshore wind farm. For an overall assessment of the impacts of offshore wind, the effects still have to be investigated on a cumulative and international level over the long term.
A number of measures are necessary to achieve environmentally sound development of the use of offshore wind energy. Marine spatial planning is important for guiding human activities in the marine environment, such as the use of offshore wind energy. Marine protected areas are of high relevance for protecting sensitive habitats and species. State-of-the-art mitigation measures against underwater noise are required to avoid hazards to whales. Finally, marine compensation measures can help to counterbalance adverse impacts of offshore wind farms.