USA: Offshore Wind Needs More Noise Impact Studies

Long-term impacts of turbine noise on the marine life are still poorly understood and the lack of data might have unfavorable impacts on offshore wind projects, reports Vineyard Gazette.

However, certain studies have provided some clues about how marine life might be affected by underwater turbine noise while the potential impact on fisheries remains an open question.

Peter Tyack, a leading whale biologist at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, said: “The bottom line is that operating wind farms really do not have much of an effect on whales. I don’t think once a wind turbine is in place it’s likely to have an impact more than 100 meters away.”

Mr. Tyack believes that a problem could be caused if wind farms are placed in primary feeding grounds like Stellwagen Bank northeast of Boston, but not so much in an area that sees only occasional migration like Nantucket Sound, except during construction.

Biologist T. Aran Mooney of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution characterized the underwater noise output of wind farms and of boat traffic as continuous low frequency noise. Turbine noise underwater comes mainly from the gearboxes and generators at the top of the towers.

Most European wind farms that have been operating for years offer insufficient guidance because they did not undertake baseline fish surveys before they were constructed.

Subsea World News Staff , March 12, 2012;  Image: Oceana