Ecological risk as a tool for evaluating the effects of offshore wind farm construction in the North Sea

Abstract

Offshore wind power generation represents a chance to supply energy in a more sustainable way; however, the ecological risks associated with the construction and operation of offshore wind farms are still largely unknown. This paper uses the concept of ecological risk for analysing ecological changes during construction of offshore wind farms. “Ecological risk” is defined as the potentially reduced ability of providing ecosystem services. The ERSEM ecosystem model allows assessing ecological risk based on a number of selected variables (integrity indicators) and under the assumption that increased suspended matter concentration during construction of wind farms affects ecosystem functioning. We conclude that ecological risk is adequate to describe the effects of wind farm constructions, although the computation procedure still needs to be refined and the choice of indicators further optimised. In this context, the choice of indicators available in modelling as well as in monitoring time-series may offer the way forward.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5

References

  1. ASMO (1997) Modelling workshop on eutrophication issues, 5–8 November 1996

  2. Baretta JW, Ebenhöh W, Ruardij P (1995) An overview over the European regional sea ecosystem model, a complex marine ecosystem model. Neth J Sea Res 33(3/4):233–246

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Barkmann J, Baumann R, Meyer U, Müller F, Windhorst W (2001) Ökologische Integrität: Risikovorsorge im Nachhaltigen Landschaftsmanagement. GAIA 10/2:97–108

    Google Scholar 

  4. Barkmann J, Marggraf R (2004) Ökologische Schäden durch Vernachlässigung des Vorsorgeprinzips in Nachhaltigen Landschaftsmanagement –eine Umweltökonomische Perspektive, in: Theorie in der Ökologie, Bd. 10, Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main.pp 57–76

  5. Baumann R. (2001). Indikatioon der Selbstorganisationsfähighkeit terrestrischer Ökosysteme. Online publication at the University of Kiel. http://e-diss.uni-kiel.de/diss_467/d467.pdf

  6. Beckerman W, Pasek J (1996) Plural values and environmental evaluation. CSERGE working paper GEC 96–11, p 38

  7. Beddig S, Brockmann U, Dannecker W, Körner D, Niemeier U, Pohlmann T, Puls W, Radach G, Rebers A, Rick H-J, Schatzmann M, Schlünzen H, Schulz M (1997) Nitrogen fluxes in the German Bight. Mar Pollut Bull 34:382–394

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Benjamin JR, Cornell CA (1970) Probability, statistics and decision for civil engineers. Mc Graw Hill, New York, pp 684

    Google Scholar 

  9. Breckling B, Müller F (2000) Der Ökologischer Risikobegriff. In: Breckling B, Müller F (Hrsg) Der ökologische Risikobegriff, Theorie in der Ökologie, Bd 1, Peter Lang Verlag, pp 1–15

  10. Burkhard B (2006) Nordsee 2055 Zukunftsszenarien für die Küste. In Vorstand des Vereins zür Fördeung der Ökosystemforschung zu Kiel eV (ed) EcoSys Beiträge zur Ökosystemforschung,Verein zür Fördeung der Ökosystemforschung zu Kiel eV, vol 46, pp 70–89

  11. Burkhard B, Müller F (2008) Indicating ecosystem health and integrity. In: Denhardt A, Petschow U (eds) Governance of river basins. Ökom Verlag München (in press)

  12. De Groot R (1992) Functions of nature, Wolters-Noordhoff, p 315

  13. Den Haag, RIKZ report, p 86

  14. DHI (1999) Horns rev wind power plant—environmental impact assessment of hydrography. DHI report 50396-01, p 50

  15. Erich S (2005) Auswirkungen von Offshore-Windkraftanlagen auf die Fischfauna. Bundesforschungsanstlt für Fischerei, Institut für Seefischerei, Hamburg. http://www.sdn-web.de/Windkraft/ehrwind.pdf as of July 2006

  16. Eser U (2000) Zur Relevanz des ökologischen Risikobegriffs für das politisch-gesellschaftliche Handeln. In: B. Breckling and F. Müller (Hrsg.), Der ökologische Risikobegriff, Theorie in der Ökologie, Bd.1, Peter Lang Verlag, pp 181–190

  17. Fisher B, Costanza R, Turner RK, Jefferiss P (2008). A system approach to definitions and principles for ecosystem services. CSERGE working paper (in press)

  18. Gunderson LH, Holling CS (2002) Panarchy: understanding transformations in human and natural systems. Washington, Covelo, London

  19. Hill RA, Chapman PM, Mann GS, Lawrence GS (2000) Level of detail in ecological risk assessments. Mar Pollut Bull 40(6):471–477

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  20. Hoffmann E, Astrup J, Larsen F, Munch-Petersen S, Stoettrup J (2000) Effects of marine wind farms on the distribution of fish, shellfish and marine mammals in the Horns Rev area. Danish Institute for Fisheries Research, Baggrundsraport Nr. 24

  21. Hofmann J, Behrendt H, Gilbert A, Janssen R, Kannen A, Kappenberg J, Lenhart H-J, Lise W, Nunneri C, Windhorst W (2005) Catchment–coastal zone interaction based upon scenario and model analysis: Elbe and the German Bight case study. In: Regional environmental change 5(2–3):54–81

  22. Joint I, Pomroy A (1993) Phytoplankton biomass and production in the southern North Sea. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 99:169–182

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Köller J, Köppel J, Peters W (eds) (2006) Offshore wind energy research on environmental impacts. Springer, Berlin, p 317

  24. Lenhart H-J (1999) Eutrophierung im kontinentalen Küstenbereich der Nordsee, Reduktionsszenarien der Flußeinträge von Nährstoffen mit dem Ökosystemmodell-ERSEM. Zentrum für Meeres- und Klimaforschung, Reihe B: Ozeanographie, Nr. 35, Hamburg

  25. Lenhart H-J (2001). Effects of river nutrient load reduction on the eutrophication of the North Sea simulated with the ecosystem model ERSEM. In: Kröncke I, Türkay M, Sündermann J (eds) Burning issues of North Sea ecology. Proceedings of the 14th international Senckenberg Conference North Sea 2000, Senckenbergiana marit, vol 31(2), pp 299–311

  26. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005) Ecosystems and human well-being: synthesis. Island Press, Washington DC, pp 137

    Google Scholar 

  27. Müller F, Hoffmann-Kroll R, Wiggering H (2000) Indicating ecosystem integrity—theoretical concepts and environmental requirements. Ecol Model 130:13–23

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Müller F (2005) Indicating ecosystem and landscape organisation. Ecol Indic 5:280–294

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Nunneri C (2001) A decision-making approach for coastal protection in Wiedingharder Alter Koog (Northwest Germany). Meyniana 53:119–142

    Google Scholar 

  30. Nunneri C, Windhorst W, Turner RK, Lenhart H-J (2007) Nutrient emission reduction scenarios in the North Sea: an abatement cost and ecosystem integrity analysis. Ecol Indic 7:776–792

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Nunneri C, Lenhart H-J, Burkhard B, Colijn F, Müller F, Windhorst W. (2008) Ecological risk for assessing effects of human activities: an example including eutrophication and offshore wind farm construction in the North Sea. Landscape online (in press)

  32. Philippart CJM, Beukema JJ, Cadee GC, Dekker R, Goedhart PW, van Iperen JM, Leopold MF, Herman PMJ (2007). Impacts of nutrient reduction on coastal communities ecosystems. doi:10.1007/s10021-006-9006-7

  33. Pohlmann T, Puls W (1994) Currents and transport in water. In: Sündermann J (ed) Circulation and contaminant fluxes in the North Sea. Springer, Berlin, pp 345–402

    Google Scholar 

  34. Potthast T (2004) Conceptual, epistemological, and ethical perspectives on ‘ecological damage’ with regard to genetically modified organisms. In: Risk hazard damage—speculation of criteria to assess environmental impact of genetically modified organisms

  35. Puls W, Sündermann J (1990) Simulation of suspended sediment dispersion in the North Sea. Coast Estuar Stud 38:356–372

    Google Scholar 

  36. Renn O (1995) Individual and social perception of risk. In: Fuhrer U (Hrsg) Ökologisches Handeln als sozialer Prozess Ecological action as social process. Berlin, pp 27–50

  37. Turner RK, Brower R, Georgiou S, Bateman I (2000) Ecosystem functions and services: an integrated framework and case study for environmental evaluation, CSERGE working paper GEC 2000-21. University of East Anglia, Norwich

    Google Scholar 

  38. Van Beusekom J, Diehl-Christiansen S (1994) A synthsis of phyto- and zooplankton dynamics in the North Sea environment Godalming. WWF – World Wide Fund For Nature, p 148

  39. Windhorst W, Müller F, Wiggering H (2004). Umweltziele und Indikatoren für den Ökosystemschutz. In: Wiggering H, Müller F (eds) Umweltziele und Indikatoren wissenschaftliche Anforrderungen an ihre Festlegung und Fallbeispiele. Springer, Heidelberg, pp 345–374

    Google Scholar 

  40. Windhorst W, Colijn F, Kabuta S, Laane RPWM, Lenhart H-J (2005) Defining a good ecological status of coastal waters—a case study for the Elbe plume. In: Vermaat JE, Bouwer LM, Salomons W, Turner RK (eds) Managing European coasts: past, present and future. Springer, Heidelberg, pp 59–73

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

This work has been carried out in the framework of the BMBF-funded project Zukunft Küste-Coastal Futures (Project No. 03F0404A), a LOICZ affiliated project. Many thanks to F. Colijn for useful suggestions and constructive comments on an earlier version of this paper.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Corinna Nunneri.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Nunneri, C., Lenhart, H.J., Burkhard, B. et al. Ecological risk as a tool for evaluating the effects of offshore wind farm construction in the North Sea. Reg Environ Change 8, 31–43 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-008-0045-9

Download citation

Keywords

  • Ecosystem services
  • Ecological integrity
  • Integrity indicators