Jul 25 2012

Fish Populations Experience Increase in Number around Danish Wind Farm

Published by under Student blog entries

Horns Rev 1 Wind Farm

While the number and size of wind farms increase, research on the environmental effects of this source of renewable energy becomes more important. One of the main concerns with wind farms is its effects on fish populations. While most externalities of energy generation seem to be negative, there has been speculation that that wind farms could have a positive effect on fish populations in the area. A recent Danish study confirms these beliefs in a wind farm off the Danish island of Anholt.

The wind farm named Horns Rev 1 is one of the largest in the world and contains 80 turbines in water no more than 20 meters deep. In order to protect from erosion around the turbine columns, boulders were placed as scour protection. It is this alteration of habitat from previously sandy substrate that researchers believe will lead to increased fish populations.

The study, which is the first to study the effects of a Danish wind farm on fish populations, began before construction of Horns Rev 1 to give researchers an idea of how the wind farm affects fish populations. After seven years, surveys showed that fish populations increased in number. Additionally, species not previously found in the area such as goldsinny-wrasse, eelpout, and lumpfish were found in the area. Fish numbers also appeared to be higher closer to the turbine.

Pouting and goldsinny wrasse at turbine foundation at Horns Rev 1

Because of the alteration of habitat, researchers believed that species such as sand eels who take advantage of sandy substrates would decline in number. However, the study found that sand eel numbers did not decline. Although the results of this study are promising, researchers do not believe that these results will be found in the other 11 Danish wind farms. This is because Horns Rev 1 is located in a fairly harsh environment with lots of wave action. With the addition of boulders, seaweed that harbors fish eggs and other organisms has an easier time growing. In more gentle environments, fish numbers may not increase as much. Another factor that may influence the findings of this study is that all fishing activities have been prohibited in the area of Horns Rev 1, leading to the wind farm acting like a small marine protected area.

While this is only one study on a single wind farm, it gives promising results that wind farms will not have a negative effect on fish populations. This can also be a benefit towards human activities as these areas could be beneficial to the fishing industry.

References

Leonhard, S.B.; Stenberg, C. & Støttrup, J. (Eds.) 2011. Effect of the Horns Rev 1 Offshore Wind Farm on Fish Communities. Follow-up Seven Years after Construction. DTU Aqua, Orbicon, DHI, NaturFocus. Report commissioned by The Environmental Group through contract with Vattenfall Vindkraft A/S. DTU Aqua-report No 246-2011. National Institute of Aquatic Resources, Technical University of Denmark. 66 p.+ Appendicies

Technical University of Denmark (DTU). “Fish thriving around wind farms.” ScienceDaily, 10 Apr. 2012. Web. 24 Jul. 2012.

 

 

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