US Wind, Inc. announced $11 million in funding over ten years to the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science for three research projects aimed at understanding the potential effects of offshore wind development on marine life.
Opponents of wind power have cited a lack of knowledge about the effects of wind turbines on marine life.
“As US Wind works to develop offshore wind off Maryland’s coast, it’s imperative that we do so responsibly,” said Jeff Grybowski, US Wind CEO. “We’re thrilled to be partnering with UMCES on industry-leading environmental research that will enhance protections for marine life as we develop this clean energy resource for the region.”
“Partnering with a leading environmental research institution like UMCES is an exciting building block in our efforts to collect much-needed biological information in our Lease,” said Laurie Jodziewicz, US Wind Senior Director of Environmental Affairs. “The planned work will go a long way in filling knowledge gaps that still exist about offshore wind’s effects on the marine environment. We’re excited to get started.”
US Wind’s funding will support three projects, all planned to kick off this year, to understand the potential environmental effects of offshore wind development in the Mid-Atlantic.
The three UMCES research projects are:
- Commercial and Recreational Fisheries Monitoring: The goal of this eight-year program is to evaluate the extent that black sea bass change their aggregation behaviors before, during, and after construction. Black sea bass are structure-oriented with large aggregations occurring on artificial reefs and wrecks. Turbine foundations will add three-dimensional structure within US Wind’s Lease where very little currently exists. This research project will assess the benefits and potential fish aggregation effects. It will also test black sea bass fishing.
- Near Real-Time Whale Detection: This initiative will continue the deployment of a near real-time whale detection system to provide timely alerts on the presence of baleen whales (North Atlantic right whales, and humpback, fin, and sei whales) for a 12-month period from 2022 to 2023. The project is a partnership between UMCES and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution that utilizes specialized quiet mooring technology, whale vocalization detection algorithms, and telecommunications to transmit frequent alerts on the presence of baleen whales.
- Passive Acoustic Monitoring Array: This long-term research project will support passive acoustic monitoring to detect large whales — such as North Atlantic right whales — and dolphins to understand their presence and migration patterns in and around the Lease area and the potential effects of construction. Working with Cornell University’s Center for Conservation Bioacoustics, two types of listening devices will be deployed to determine the occurrence and position of large whales and dolphins, and to detect the tonal echolocation clicks of small cetaceans including porpoises.