Environmental Impact Assessment for the decommissioning of offshore wind farms

Hall, Rebecca and Topham, Eva and João, Elsa (2022) Environmental Impact Assessment for the decommissioning of offshore wind farms. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 165. 112580. ISSN 1879-0690 (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2022.112580)

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The rapid growth of renewable energy developments, particularly offshore wind, means that worldwide there are hundreds of artificial structures in the marine environment that will at some point require removal. Decommissioning activities can have a range of effects on the environment, which are assessed through an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) prior to removal. EIA provides an opportunity to explore the best environmental options for decommissioning if utilised early in the planning process during the wind farm design. EIA should be utilised as a decision-aiding tool to assess impacts and design mitigation and monitoring across the life of an asset. In this paper, potential environmental impacts, mitigation measures, and alternative actions are explored as examples of best environmental practice-based thinking at a range of scales and for multiple receptors. The removal of structures might be challenging with regards to best environmental options if countries require changes to policy. We pose alternative actions to be considered in EIA which take circular economy into account and maximise environmental benefit in the long term. To enable the best environmental outcomes, we propose that EIA should be used proactively and reflectively with a tailored approach to designing decommissioning.


Hall, Rebecca, Topham, Eva and João, Elsa ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0796-123X;