Environmental Impact Assessment for the decommissioning of offshore wind farms

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Abstract

The rapid growth of renewable energy developments, particularly offshore wind, means that worldwide there are hundreds of artificial structures in the marine environment that will at some point require removal. Decommissioning activities can have a range of effects on the environment, which are assessed through an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) prior to removal. EIA provides an opportunity to explore the best environmental options for decommissioning if utilised early in the planning process during the wind farm design. EIA should be utilised as a decision-aiding tool to assess impacts and design mitigation and monitoring across the life of an asset. In this paper, potential environmental impacts, mitigation measures, and alternative actions are explored as examples of best environmental practice-based thinking at a range of scales and for multiple receptors. The removal of structures might be challenging with regards to best environmental options if countries require changes to policy. We pose alternative actions to be considered in EIA which take circular economy into account and maximise environmental benefit in the long term. To enable the best environmental outcomes, we propose that EIA should be used proactively and reflectively with a tailored approach to designing decommissioning.
Original languageEnglish
Article number112580
Number of pages10
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Volume165
Early online date25 May 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2022

Keywords

  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • offshore wind
  • decommissioning
  • ecosystem impacts
  • circular economy

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