During the construction of wind energy or marine renewable energy devices, substantial noise levels can be produced by vessel or vehicle traffic and installation activities (e.g., pile driving, cable burial). Operation of these devices may additionally produce low levels of noise from the rotation of turbine blades, movement of floating devices on the surface, or strumming of mooring lines and cables. Measures to reduce noise impacts in the marine environment include the use of bubble curtains during pile driving and careful siting and timing of construction activities to avoid species’ critical migration routes and times.
Sound propagates farther and faster in water than in air, which can result in greater consequences for the marine environment. Coupled with the many other sources of anthropogenic noise in the marine environment (e.g., ships, seismic studies), the noise from offshore wind and marine renewable energy devices may impact many marine species. Noise may interfere with marine organisms’ communication, navigation, detection of prey, and ability to interact with their environment, as well as causing attraction to or avoidance of devices. Additionally, some marine organisms may be physically harmed from excessive noise exposure (e.g., tissue and nerve damage).
For more information relevant to marine energy, check out the Underwater Noise Short Science Summary produced by OES Environmental.
For more information relevant to offshore wind energy, check out the Underwater Noise Effects on Marine Life research brief produced by SEER.