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The UK Natural Environment Research Council has opened a call for applications for project proposals as part of the newly launched Ecological Effects of Floating Offshore Wind research programme (ECOFlow).
Floating offshore wind farms have a key role to play if the UK is to meet its climate and energy security ambitions.
This innovation holds great potential, but the collective impact of floating offshore wind infrastructure on the marine environment, coupled with other human activities, remains inadequately understood, the Council said.
To bridge critical evidence gaps, the programme will seek to deliver policy-ready solutions for the coexistence of floating offshore wind infrastructure and thriving marine ecosystems.
Building on the success of the ECOWind initiative, which focuses on the sustainable expansion of fixed offshore wind farms while supporting healthy marine environments, ECOFlow will deliver impactful science to understand the effects of floating offshore wind infrastructure on the whole marine ecosystem.
The programme will aim to answer the most critical questions relating to the impacts of floating offshore wind infrastructure on marine life, including seabirds, marine mammals, and seabed habitats.
Professor Dickon Howell, ECOWind and ECOFlow champion, said: "As we scale up renewable energy production, it is essential that this doesn’t negatively impact marine biodiversity.
"We believe floating offshore wind infrastructure should be implemented without impacting marine biodiversity, and ECOFlow has been strategically designed to deliver the science needed to achieve this."
The ECOFlow Champion Team, composed of sector experts at Howell Marine Consulting, will collaborate closely with the project teams to ensure the production of policy-relevant advice throughout the programme.
The programme is now seeking project proposals from UK research institutes, and successful projects will receive a total combined funding of £6m from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and The Crown Estate.
Each of the funded ECOFlow projects will work closely together to align their outputs, and will ultimately seek to support decision making in government and industry through generating policy-ready solutions.
Outline applications are open until 29 February 2024, and those chosen to advance to the full application stage will be informed in Spring 2024.
The final successful projects are expected to be announced in August 2024.
Source: reNews (https://renews.biz/90929/uk-programme-to-study-the-impact-of-floating-wind/)