Environmental and social footprint of offshore wind energy. Comparison with onshore counterpart
Offshore wind power comprises a relatively new challenge for the international wind industry with a demonstration history of around twenty years and a ten-year commercial history for large, utility-scale projects. By comparison to other forms of electric power generation, offshore wind energy is generally considered to have relatively benign effects on the marine environment. However, offshore projects include platforms, turbines, cables, substations, grids, interconnection and shipping, dredging and associated construction activity. The Operation & Maintenance (O&M) activities include the transport of employees by vessel or helicopter and occasional hardware retrofits. Therefore, various impacts are incurred in the construction, operation and decommissioning phases; mainly the underwater noise and the impacts on the fauna. Based on the fact that in many of the aforementioned issues there are still serious environmental uncertainties, contradictive views and emerging research, the present work intents to provide a thorough literature review on the environmental and social impacts of offshore wind energy projects in comparison with the onshore counterparts.
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