Seminar on the ecological impacts of offshore wind energy

A meeting on the theme of the use of offshore wind energy and bringing together 45 experts from regional and federal ministries, competent authorities and research institutes was held on April 14, 2005 at the University of Lüneburg. (Lower Saxony).

Wind farms must indeed be built in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), ie in the North Sea and the Baltic outside the 12 nautical mile zone. As such, and at the request of the Federal Ministry of the Environment (BMU), a research team is working under the leadership of M. Schomerus, of the University of Lüneburg, M. Runge, of the Oecos Umweltplannung office in Hamburg and Mr. Nehls from the company Bio Consult Schleswig Holstein, on a research project entitled “Strategic review and forecasting of the ecological impact of the use of offshore wind energy in the EEZ”.

The seminar held in Lüneburg was the opportunity to present the first results to a specialized audience. The theme attracted a lot of attention because hearings concerning the planning of the territory of the EEZ will start soon in Hamburg. According to the government's objectives, offshore wind energy should cover 2025% of Germany's energy needs by 15. This represents a total of 25.000 megawatts, that is to say 5.000 wind turbines which are expected to be installed in the North Sea.

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The representatives of the Federal Office for Hydrography and Maritime Navigation (BSH - Bundesamt fur Hydrographie und Seeschifffahrt) in Hamburg were particularly interested in the results of the research.

All kinds of legal questions were discussed initially, but also very practical questions such as the consequences of wind turbines on the passage of birds or porpoises. The effects on the environment are not always negative: for example, industrial fishing in wind farms will no longer be possible, thus creating effective natural reserves for fish.

One of the central themes addressed was the question of cumulative effects resulting from the sum of various influences. This assessment cannot be restricted to the national level, it must be carried out in cooperation with the other North Sea and Baltic Sea states. The various participants agreed that alongside formal procedures, research particularly in the area of ​​cumulative effects should be intensified. The use of wind power is still in its infancy.

contacts:
- Henning Zuhlsdorff - University of Lüneburg - tel: +49 4131 78 1007, fax
: +49 4131 78 1097 - email: zuehlsdorff@uni-lueneburg.de
Sources: Depeche idw, Press release of the University of Lüneburg
Editor: Nicolas Condette, nicolas.condette@diplomatie.gouv.fr

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