The ninth annual International Offshore Wind Partnering Forum (IPF) concluded last week with record-high attendance and though-provoking discussions about the booming offshore wind market. Such conversations come at a critical time as the U.S. hopes to generate 30 gigawatts (GW) of energy from offshore wind by 2030. To succeed at scale, the U.S. is already enhancing its port infrastructure, electric grid, and transmission planning process at coastal “hubs” in New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. These offshore wind hubs have the potential to boost local economies and infrastructure by creating “…distributive renewable energy ecosystems in the same way that Silicon Valley and the semiconductor industry shaped the modern world.”
As interest in the interactions of offshore renewables and fishing intensifies, INSPIRE scientists have joined an international group of scientists to report on “Understanding the Effects of Offshore Wind Energy Development on Fisheries,” a Special Issue of Oceanography. The Special Issue provides an overview of what has been learned about offshore wind farm impacts on fisheries based on research, monitoring, and engagement with the fishing industry conducted for European wind farms and the Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island.
INSPIRE has recently concluded seven years of monitoring fish and lobsters at the Block Island Wind Farm and expects to release several publications in 2021 examining the results. In advance of those detailed papers, our team reported in this Special Issue on “Effects of the Block Island Wind Farm on Coastal Resources: Lessons Learned.” The full paper can be downloaded here.
Dr. Carey, INSPIRE CEO, collaborated with an international group of scientists to prepare a paper on how Offshore Wind Farm Artificial Reefs Affect Ecosystem Structure and Functioning: A Synthesis. The submerged parts of offshore wind structures act as artificial reefs, providing new habitats and likely affecting fisheries resources. While acknowledging that the footprints of these structures may result in loss of habitat, usually soft sediment, the authors’ focus was on how the artificial reefs established by the wind farms affect ecosystem structure and functioning.
As several of New England’s offshore wind energy projects move forward, INSPIRE scientists continue to make waves in the field of wind farm impact assessment with the publication of a new paper in Estuaries and Coasts. Authors Marisa Guarinello and Dr. Drew Carey present a multi-modal approach to assess the effects of construction within glacial moraine habitats. Glacial moraines are common on the seafloor off Rhode Island and Massachusetts and they form valuable structurally complex habitat for several key species.
INSPIRE conducted pre- and post-construction surveys at the Block Island Wind Farm (BIWF) to observe effects on the moraine habitats. The seafloor was mapped with a multibeam echosounder to guide visual observation with towed video and a high resolution drop camera, which gave Guarinello and Carey multiple windows to observe these habitats at different scales. This methodology was successfully used to produce detailed baseline data, detect disturbance features, and present meaningful results to state and federal agencies.
The paper, “Multi-modal Approach for Benthic Impact Assessments in Moraine Habitats: a Case Study at the Block Island Wind Farm” is available online under Open Access.
The leading technical conference for offshore wind in the United States, Business Network for Offshore Wind’s International Partnering Forum (IPF), has gone fully online for 2020. INSPIRE is hosting a virtual booth where IPF attendees will be able to video chat with members of our team, learn about our Forward Scouting™ survey approach, and view our 2020 poster presentation.
“The 2020 IPF began in April with our IPF Virtual sessions, continues in June with our bi-weekly IPF Livestream series, and culminates August 18-20 (the same dates as the previously-scheduled IPF Together), with an opening plenary, WindMatch networking opportunities, CareerMatch job fair, research poster sessions, and much more.”
IPF official update
Please use the following links to access our IPF 2020 content:
Kathy Vigness-Raposa has joined INSPIRE Environmental (Newport, Rhode Island), bringing experience in monitoring the impacts of offshore energy installations on marine mammals to the leading marine environmental company. She hails from Marine Acoustics, Inc., and will take on a leadership role as INSPIRE continues its current expansion into fisheries and acoustics.
“We’re really expanding our technical expertise by hiring a PhD-level senior scientist who is bringing more capability to our company, allowing us to serve our clients better,” says INSPIRE CEO Drew Carey.
INSPIRE Environmental is known for using SPI (Sediment Profile Imaging) cameras to assess and monitor the health of the seafloor. When combined with the INSPIRE team’s expertise in modeling seafloor habitats, data gleaned from SPI surveys help developers plan projects that minimally disturb the seafloor, leaving sensitive habitats intact.
Vigness-Raposa and INSPIRE Environmental first collaborated during the planning stages of the Block Island Wind Farm (BIWF), working with local fishermen to map out potential impacts while coordinating with state and local regulators. They also monitored how seabed disturbance affected local fisheries and marine habitats once BIWF was operational.
“You know they say a picture is worth a thousand words, and these amazing SPI pictures really show what’s happening out there. We can look at spatial features of the ocean and ask: ‘how can we decrease the human footprint as much as possible on marine animals and seafloor habitats?’”
Dr. Kathy Vigness-Raposa
In a growing offshore energy sector, and by integrating expertise in acoustic impacts with their existing tried and tested workflows, INSPIRE is perfectly positioned to provide a holistic view of seafloor health and fisheries sustainability.
INSPIRE has worked national and international industry and government clients, including Deepwater Wind/Ørsted, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, and British Petroleum (BP; INSPIRE mobilized following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to monitor seafloor recovery).
“As a company we are committed to quality, innovation, and to being a collaborative and responsive partner to our clients,” says COO Jeanine Boyle. “We’re excited to bring in someone with Kathy’s experience and caliber, someone who can promote both the science and our high level of client support.”