A water technology consultancy operating out of an innovation centre in Southampton has taken part in the world’s most comprehensive study of its kind.
DHI Water Environments UK, based at Ocean Village Innovation Centre (OVIC), participated in pioneering research regarding seabird collision avoidance at an offshore wind farm.
The report was authored by DHI and marine environmental consultancy NIRAS on behalf of the Carbon Trust and a Project Steering Committee, which includes representatives from regulatory bodies and the offshore wind industry.
The study managed to collect an unprecedented volume of data on seabirds at operational wind farms.
In excess of 230 seabird observer deployment days were involved, along with almost constant radar and video camera recording at Vattenfall’s Thanet Offshore Wind Farm, 12km off the East Kent coast.
The Thanet Offshore Wind Farm consists of 100 wind turbines across 35 sq km of the English Channel; the lower and upper tip of each rotor is 25m and 115m high respectively, with a rotor diameter of 90m, and the distance between the turbines is between 500m to 800m.
Nick Elderfield, DHI’s Managing Director, said: “Within a balanced energy generating environment, combining traditional and renewable sources, Offshore Wind is a power source of great relevance for the UK.
“One of the greatest challenges to Offshore Wind has been understanding the potential impacts on the environment, with seabirds being one of the major receptors.
“DHI’s expert knowledge was vital in gathering first-of-its-kind data on the potential impact of Offshore Wind farms.
“In the world’s most comprehensive study of its kind, it was evidenced that the vast majority (96.8%) of recorded seabirds avoided the turbines by flying between the turbine rows, while 3.2% adjusted flight height to fly below the rotor-swept zone.”
Nick added: “The pioneering study finds that seabirds avoid offshore turbines more than previously predicted. This research provides greater certainly that seabirds can safely navigate wind farms.”
Carried out over four years, data came from radar detection and expert visual observers based on turbine platforms.
Stephen Deller, manager at Ocean Village Innovation Centre, said: “DHI’s consultancy is another example of the incredible work our technology customers are involved in at a local, regional, national and international stage.
“Wind energy is becoming a key player as nations look to decarbonise their economies through clean renewables, with wind energy already accounting for around 10.4% of the EU’s electricity demand and reducing reliance on fossil fuel coal to keep the lights on.”
OVIC, which provides flexible workspace for start-ups, early-stage firms and growth companies, is home to 40 businesses, with nearly 90% occupancy.
DHI has also played an international role in building a better understanding of our planet’s shallow seas.
The measurement of underwater terrain by DHI was part of an 18-month project in partnership with Digital Globe and Tcarta and funded by the European Space Agency.
Covering six per cent of the world’s seas, the new data makes use of satellite imagery to better inform critical understanding by governments, scientists, maritime, energy and telecommunications companies and environmentalists.
Increased demand for DHI’s consultancy services, including from offshore wind farm and tidal energy designers and developers, has meant expansion at the firm’s base at OVIC.
DHI Water Environments UK is part of the global Danish-owned DHI Group, a water technology specialist which owns and licenses water modelling software including the MIKE Suite of products.
Its software, with a history extending back to the start of modern computational hydraulics, analyses, models and simulates any type of challenge in water environments and is used by the vast majority of sector consultants.