Positive impact of offshore wind farms

Thursday, 7 January, 2016 - 10:15
Two new reports show the positive impact of offshore wind farms. (Source: The Crown Estate)
Two new reports show the positive impact of offshore wind farms. (Source: The Crown Estate)

The offshore wind industry has a broadly positive impact on human well-being, conclude two new reports. “Understanding the impacts of offshore wind on well-being” and “Public perceptions of offshore wind farms” represent the outcomes from a study by Plymouth Marine Laboratory scientists, commissioned by The Crown Estate.

The first review explores how we are impacted by the offshore wind industry in our daily lives. The scientists measured these impacts objectively in terms of how we are affected materially. Positive impacts were seen on the economy in terms of investments, for manufacturing and the development of relevant infrastructure, and in terms of jobs and skills development. Social and environmental impacts were more mixed or less clear. The role of policy and planning in facilitating offshore wind industry development was also investigated.

“We found that people were generally positive about offshore wind energy, but there were concerns about the planning process for offshore wind farms, which led to some distrust in developers. Understanding the complex nature of people’s perceptions of the offshore wind industry was something we needed to explore in more detail”, said Drs Caroline Hattam and Tara Hooper.

You find both reports on our OFFSHORE WIND INDUSTRY website under the tab Studies.

Perceptions of the UK public to offshore wind farms (OWFs) were explored in a second report. This report aimed to further our understanding of how individual well-being is affected by OWFs as well as the wider opinions held by the general public on the industry. It found that offshore wind was the third most favourable electricity source after solar and hydro. 83 % of the survey respondents view offshore wind energy as favourable or very favourable and more than a third would like to see at least 30 % of their electricity produced by offshore wind. A clear majority of respondents felt that OWFs do not harm human health, are an efficient way to generate electricity, contribute significantly to the UK economy, create local jobs, and do not affect fishermen’s incomes. Opinion was more evenly divided as to whether OWFs have a positive effect on coastal tourism, benefit local communities, harm wildlife or spoil the view.

Despite these positive attitudes towards offshore wind energy, when compared with other electricity sources in terms of perceived reliability and contribution to UK jobs, the offshore wind industry performs badly. The perceived minimal environmental impact of offshore wind farms is not sufficient to compensate for a perceived lack of reliability. Respondents identified a lack of public support as the most significant barrier to offshore wind farm development.

Katharina Garus / Plymouth Marine Laboratory

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