The development of floating wind turbines that can operate in deep, offshore waters has unlocked tremendous energy generation potential (1). Existing floating offshore wind turbines, however, are still in demonstration phases. Because only about 10 turbines exist worldwide (2), their short- and long-term environmental impacts are still largely unknown. Floating wind turbines are likely to come with their own set of unique risks (3), which could include secondary entanglement of marine life in debris ensnared on stabilizing mooring lines (4), increased collision potential due to three-dimensional turbine movement (5), and benthic habitat degradation from turbine infrastructure such as anchors and buried interarray cables (6).
Despite potential impacts, countries are rapidly moving toward full commercial installations. The United States is advancing toward a lease sale for two areas in central and northern California and proposing floating wind turbines as a primary technology for the Gulf of Mexico (7). Floating wind turbines are also planned for the Gulf of Maine (8) and likely for New York (9). European and Asian countries have similar expansions planned (2).