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The University of Southampton
Intelligent & Resilient Ocean Engineering – Royal Academy of Engineering Chair in Emerging Technologies

Research project: Geospatial Mapping of Impacts from Offshore Wind on Benthic Community and Heritage Assets

Currently Active: 

Funded by a Southampton Geospatial HEIF award, ‘Geospatial Mapping of Impacts from Offshore Wind on Benthic Community and Heritage Assets’ Principal Investigator: Dr Hugo Putuhena, Co Investigators: Prof Susan Gourvenec (School of Engineering), Prof David White (School of Engineering), Prof Fraser Sturt (School of Archaeology), Prof Martin Solan (School of Ocean & Earth Science), Dr Tom Williams (School of Ocean & Earth Science) Partners: Cefas, Historic England, Ministry of Defence

UKRI Research England

This project models the potential impact on heritage assets and benthic ecology of different scenarios for meeting the UK’s net zero commitments through increased offshore renewable energy (ORE) generation.  The UK is projected to grow offshore wind installed capacity from the current 11 GW to ~65-y 2050 based on government commitments. This may require up to 50,000 turbines occupying up to 150,000 km2 of ocean space (up to five times more area than current leased sites), with connectivity to the UK electricity grid or to offshore hydrogen production facilities.

The space within which this activity has to occur is home to finite heritage assets and complex marine ecosystems, all of which carry varying levels of protection under UK and devolved government legislation.   As such, difficult decisions have been taken as to where and how development may occur.  At present the early parts of this process are reliant on dated strategic environmental assessments, regional environmental characterisation and simplistic GIS driven conflict assessments that do not take account of differential scheme impacts.  This shapes where consents are given and subsequently where more detailed environmental impact assessment is undertaken. 

Working with key stakeholders this project will leverage improved understanding of design specifications, installation methods and post installation impacts (from fixed to floating) to provide a new baseline for marine spatial planning and risk assessment.  This will be achieved through matching engineering specifications to newly available higher resolution bathymetry, subsurface geology, heritage and environmental data.   

More information on the project can be found here:

Related research groups

Infrastructure Group
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