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Brilliant minds finding solutions to complex problems, made easy to understand. Making complex easy.

Brilliant minds finding solutions to complex problems, made easy to understand. Making complex easy.

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Ornithology R&D study aims to de-risk the consenting process for offshore wind farms

22 September 2021 | 2 min read

RPS is proud to be supporting the Aberdeen ornithology research project sponsored by Vattenfall to better inform the consenting process for the offshore wind industry.  

The notoriously complex consenting process is a potential barrier to growth for the offshore wind industry. The uncertainties surrounding our understanding of seabird flight behaviour at offshore wind farms often leads to precautionary, and perhaps overly conservative assessment outcomes, which heightens the risk to successful consents.

RPS, in partnership with Denmark-based DHI Group, are project managing and conducting data analysis for a study at Vattenfall’s European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre off Aberdeen, which has been designed to document the micro- and meso-avoidance behaviour of local seabirds. This will help the industry gain a deeper understanding of their flight behaviour in and around wind turbines, and more accurately model, and therefore predict, the likely impact risk by an offshore wind farm on the local seabird populations.  

RPS ornithology - gannet in flight
Credit: Mike Armitage

The study is concentrated on the breeding season and post-breeding dispersal when seabirds are commuting between their breeding colonies to their offshore feeding areas. Radar monitors automatically track and record birds in flight – the associated sample of videos is reviewed by RPS’ ornithology team, and the data on species and their avoidance behaviour identified and recorded.

Related read: The 2020 (year one) results of this study have recently been published on the EOWDC website.

R&D: knowledge and insight is powerful 

At the top of the global, and our clients’ environmental agendas is decarbonisation and the transformation of the energy sector. The pace of this change is only accelerating. At RPS, we know that R&D is the key to creating shared value; the knowledge and insight gained through R&D leads to greater efficiencies, process improvement and opportunity, which is essential for the sector to thrive.    

We build on a strong reputation in the market for innovation and pushing boundaries. Being widely known for our expertise means that we have consistently been chosen as the industry’s leading specialists to deliver on our clients’ offshore wind goals. 

Watch: Mike will be presenting the year one results of this study at the 3rd World Seabird Conference in early October. You can register here. 


Making complex easy 

RPS’ extensive offshore wind experience includes 20 years at the forefront of the industry, working across the UK, wider Europe, America, Australia and Asia. We have worked on both floating offshore wind and fixed foundation offshore and onshore wind farm projects, and we have deep experience in the provision of technical consultancy and operational support for the energy sector.  

“I’m really excited about this study at Aberdeen, it’s great to be at the forefront of such a critical research project. Much of my work at RPS is about estimating and predicting the effects of offshore wind energy development on seabirds, this project provides us with quality data to refine those predictions to ensure our assessments are more robust.  

I’m encouraged by the results from the first year’s monitoring – we’ve seen some strong avoidance responses to turbines, reflected by the fact that in our sample of several thousand videos of seabird flights, we have not witnessed any collisions.” 

Mike Armitage
Technical Director - Ornithology

RPS ornithology - nesting Gannets
Credit: Mike Armitage

Nesting Gannets

About RPS

Founded in 1970, RPS, A Tetra Tech Company (RPS) is a leading global professional services firm of 5,000 consultants and service providers. Operating in 125 countries, working across six continents we define, design and manage projects that create shared value to a complex, urbanising and resource-scarce world.

RPS delivers a broad range of services in six sectors: property, energy, transport, water, defence and government services and resources. Services provided across RPS' six sectors cover twelve service clusters: project and program management, design and development, water services, environment, advisory and management consulting, exploration and development, planning and approvals, health, safety and risk, oceans and coastal, laboratories, training and communications, creative and digital services.

RPS stands out for its clients by using its deep expertise to solve problems that matter, making them easy to understand. Making complex easy.

For further information, please visit www.rpsgroup.com.