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Wildlife and Offshore Wind Frequently Asked Questions

The Offshore Wind Environmental Technical Working Group (E-TWG) formed a specialist committee in 2023 to develop communications materials to aid in the dissemination of accurate, readily understandable information around recent whale mortality events and the level of potential risk to whales from offshore wind energy development activities. This committee has developed a series of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) as a resource for stakeholders who are in direct communication with the general public and receive questions related to whales and offshore wind. The intent of this effort is to provide scientifically sound, accurate answers to address common questions. Given the urgency of disseminating accurate information, this FAQ resource will be updated over time to address emerging questions related to whales and offshore wind energy development
 

Image by Thierry Meier

Frequently Asked Questions

Offshore Wind Development Process
What are the major components of an offshore wind farm?

Offshore wind farms are typically comprised of turbines, whose rotors convert mechanical energy from wind into electrical energy, and an offshore substation, which are linked to each other by a network of electrical cables. The electricity is transported onshore via export cables (which are typically buried in the seafloor) so that the energy can be integrated into the electrical grid. Turbines can either have fixed foundations, in which the foundation is driven into the seabed, or floating foundations, which have a series of anchors attached to the foundation via mooring lines. Floating turbine designs are newer and are generally deployed in much deeper waters (50-300 m, or 164-984 ft).

What are the potential effects of offshore wind development on whales?

Offshore wind farms are typically comprised of turbines, whose rotors convert mechanical energy from wind into electrical energy, and an offshore substation, which are linked to each other by a network of electrical cables. The electricity is transported onshore via export cables (which are typically buried in the seafloor) so that the energy can be integrated into the electrical grid. Turbines can either have fixed foundations, in which the foundation is driven into the seabed, or floating foundations, which have a series of anchors attached to the foundation via mooring lines. Floating turbine designs are newer and are generally deployed in much deeper waters (50-300 m, or 164-984 ft).

Regulatory Processes
What federal and international environmental laws protect whales? 

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Offshore Wind Mitigation Measures
What mitigation measures are available to avoid or minimize offshore wind effects to whales?

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Photo credits: Whale fluke © Richard Sagredo

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