Foundation series

Study of a Dutch wind farm on the design of fish-friendly wind turbine foundations

A study carried out on the Hollandse Kust Zuid offshore wind farm will examine how the design of the turbine foundations can support marine life.

Energy company Vattenfall partnered with Dutch nature conservation organization De Rijke Noordzee for the study at Hollandse Kust Zuid. The wind farm, jointly owned by Vattenfall and BASF, is currently under construction between 18 and 34 km off the Dutch coast. The Royal Netherlands Institute for Marine Research NIOZ is also involved in the study.

The research focuses on water replenishment holes in the foundations of wind turbines and how they can be used by fish and other marine life.

The study will examine to what extent the interior of the foundations can be used by marine life for settlement, shelter and as a place of feeding.

The elliptical openings measure approximately 30 cm by 1 m and are located above the seabed and just below the water surface.

Over the next two years, data will be collected to verify the development of biodiversity. Last winter, scientists from De Rijke Noordzee carried out their first series of measurements.

De Rijke Noordzee is developing an open source toolkit called “Nature development in wind farms”, which will include the results of the study.

De Rijke Noordzee program director Erwin Coolen said: “If the results meet our expectations, it will boost marine biodiversity.

“Inclusive nature design is the future. I am proud that we are working with Vattenfall on these kinds of innovative solutions, which will provide our country with sustainable energy while strengthening the environment at the same time.

Gijs Nijsten from Vattenfall, Head of Sustainability at Hollandse Kust Zuid, added: “Offshore wind is growing rapidly and will continue to grow significantly over the next few years.

“We are constantly looking for ways to minimize the impact of our projects on the ecosystem. Continuous turbine innovation and modification has led to an ever-improving balance between sustainably generated electricity and a healthy ecosystem.

When fully operational, Hollandse Kust Zuid is expected to be the largest offshore wind farm in the world. Its 140 turbines will have a combined installed capacity of 1.5 GW.