Ensuring a sustainable future for offshore wind farm cables
One of the key elements of the transition to renewable energy and growth in marine renewables, is the ability to successfully install electrical cabling in the marine environment. With the expansion of offshore renewable development and cable interconnectors in the marine environment, there has been an increased focus on the effect of cabling on the seabed, which potentially represent an increased consent risk to projects in the UK.
Greater clarity and understanding on cable installation techniques and tools, and how these could impact on the seabed, ensures consenting advice from regulators and nature conservation bodies is informed with the best evidence available.
As part of their work to explore new offshore wind leasing, The Crown Estate has commissioned RPS to undertake a study to review current cable installation methods and protection measures, and habitat recovery.
This project is being driven by the increasing interest from stakeholders on the effects of cabling on the local marine environment and is being undertaken to support any ‘Plan Level Habitats Regulations Assessment’ that may be required for future leasing activity.
Our in-house environmental and engineering specialists are collaborating with offshore wind and interconnector developers to collate information on existing cable installation methods and tools used. We are assessing their effectiveness in a variety of seabed types and highlighting the lessons learned from previous development rounds.
We’re also undertaking a comprehensive review of available evidence on the impacts of offshore wind farm cabling on seabed sediments and associated biological communities- drawing on data collected from offshore wind monitoring, peer reviewed scientific literature, and our own team’s experiences with offshore cabling and analogous offshore industries.
The RPS study will help to inform understanding of the impacts of cabling on benthic habitats and, where relevant, will make recommendations on how to address any information gaps in this area, through targeted monitoring or wider industry research. The study will also consider the potential requirements for future consent applications (including those associated with the latest leasing round) and proposals for work practices and reporting, during and post cable installation.
By providing a deeper understanding of the factors influencing successful cable installation, particularly cable protection, as well as the environmental impact of these activities, this study will aid regulators and nature conservation bodies to make evidence-based decisions based on the best available information.
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