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Research project

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

Project overview

To meet the net zero targets and accelerate the energy transition, the current capacity of offshore wind in UK waters needs to increase by a factor of five by 2030, or by a factor of ten by 2050 for domestic electrification purposes (and even higher for green hydrogen or hydrogen export). Achieving this tenfold increase would require the installation of approximately 15,000 10 MW turbines, occupying approximately 35,000 km2 of seabed in the increasingly crowded UK waters. To install foundations and anchors to secure offshore wind turbines in place in the seabed across UK waters, a sustainable and resilient technology is required, taking into account the varying met-ocean and soil characteristics of different regions. However, the installation and post-installation processes of offshore wind turbines can cause disturbance to the seabed environment, posing significant risks to the benthic community and heritage assets. In this study, we aim to address these challenges by utilizing public datasets and engaging with research stakeholders such as the Ministry of Defense (MoD), Historic England, and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas). Our approach involves developing a geospatial database that integrates multi-variant data, including anthropogenic, geoscience, met-ocean, and ecological information. This geospatial database will be used to identify suitable locations for future offshore wind sites, and assess the potential impact on the environment, specifically the benthic community and heritage assets, for each net zero target envisioned for UK waters.

Staff

Lead researcher

Dr Hugo Putuhena

RF in Offshore Renewable Energy

Research interests

  • Geospatial assessment  
  • Seabed characterisation   
  • Offshore renewable energy
Other researchers

Professor Susan Gourvenec FREng, FICE, FIEAust, PhD, BEng

Prof Offshore Geotechnical Engineering

Professor Dave White PhD (Cantab), FREng, FICE, FTSE, FRINA, FIEAust

Professor of Infrastructure Geotechnics

Research interests

  • Offshore renewable energy - wind, tidal and wave
  • Geotechnical modelling of foundations, anchoring systems and subsea cables
  • Site characterisation - in situ and laboratory testing

Professor Fraser Sturt

Professor of Archaeology

Research interests

  • Maritme Archaeology
  • Geomatics
  • Evaluation methods

Professor Martin Solan

Professor of Marine Ecology

Research interests

  • Biodiversity ecosystem function bioturbation benthic ecology

Collaborating research institutes, centres and groups

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