New Jersey wind farms have been approved to be built off the coast of the Jersey Shore in order to create sustainable energy for the state. What does that mean for the ocean, marine life, coastal view, and birds? After doing extensive research I offer you the facts and encourage you to create your own opinion.
The New Jersey wind farm will be owned and operated by Orsted, the same company that runs the offshore wind farm located off of Block Island in Rhode Island. The Block Island wind farm has been up and running since 2016, and generates energy for over 17,000 homes. Orsted has been approved to create not one, but two wind farms off the coast of New Jersey. They have been named Ocean Wind 1 and 2.
Ocean Wind 1
The following information was obtained from Orsted.
Ocean Wind 1 will be located 15 miles off of the Southern New Jersey coast. This means they will be visible from Long Beach Island, Brigantine, Atlantic City, Margate City, Ocean City, Avalon, Stone Harbor, Wildwood, and Lower Township. Though the projected views will differ in each town. You can view the visual simulation of what Ocean Wind 1 will look like from the shorelines here. Ocean Wind 1's construction is projected to be completed by 2024. The capacity of the wind farm will be 1,100 MW, which is over 4 times Block Island's wind farm. Ocean Wind1 will be able to power over 500,000 thousand homes in New Jersey. The project stages for Ocean Wind 1 have been comprised of 2 years each for environmental and geological effects. 1 year for designing the farm, 2 years for manufacturing, and insulation lasting 2 years as well. This leads us to the question, How will it affect the ocean, marine, and wildlife.
Referring back to Block Island's wind farm, research was conducted to study the effects that the turbines have on both birds and bats. This research was conducted by the University of Rhode Island, and Dr. Scott McWilliams Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Phycology was interviewed about the findings. In the interview, Dr. McWilliams explained that there are very few deaths of birds related to wind farms and there have been no deaths documented related specifically to the Block Island wind farm. You can read and view the full interview here. To follow up with this, new technology is being experimented with in order to track any collision deaths with the turbines. The US Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, has been discussing Thermal Animal Detection Systems which will motor the collision rates of bards against the turbines. Though these are still in the beginning stages of development.
Wind Farms Resembling Artificial Reefs
The Official Magazine of Oceanography Society published “Offshore Wind Farm Artificial Reefs Affect Ecosystem Structure and Functioning: A Synthesis.” in December of 2020. In the publication, it is explained that the structure of the turbines that are submerged underwater act as artificial reefs. Resulting in the creation of complex colonization of different species of organisms. This information is based on a turbine located in Belgium. Where mussels, sea urchins, barnacles, and starfish have colonized on the turbine. See the photo below. The publication also explains how wind farms not only change the environment above water but below. Migratory fish such as tuna are disturbed by the sounds made by the turbines. Meaning it is possible for their migration patterns to be affected. Essentially this could be negative for New Jersey fishing. Though it is later explained that the turbine structures offer novel mussel habitats so due to a large number of turbines, this will increase the numbers of species such as mussels, lobsters, and crabs. The longest study that has taken place on this lasted 10 years. The long-term study found that this type of habitat made it difficult for competitive species to thrive within. To read more click here.
Just Facts, No Opinions
I would just like to reiterate that this information was obtained from credible scholarly resources. If you search the world wide web, there is a plethora of information accessible on wind farms, so to make it easier, I detailed some of the most important pros & cons in the article above, and urge you to click on the links tagged to learn more.
Often times we take for granted the environment that surrounds us both on land and sea, so it's important that we learn the facts about: how things operate, why they happen and what we can do to preserve the integrity. If we all put even a small effort into understanding these behaviors, then perhaps we can improve the footprint we have on this earth.