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

22 Sep 2021

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.  

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.  

RPS ornithology - gannet in flight

Mike Armitage

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

Mike Armitage

Nesting Gannets

About RPS

Founded in 1970, RPS is a leading global professional services firm of 5,000+ consultants and service providers. Having operated in 125 countries, across all six continents, RPS defines, designs and manages projects that create shared value for a complex, urbanising and resource scarce world.

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 wind projects, and we have deep experience in the provision of technical consultancy and operational support for the energy sector.

Past and present projects include sector firsts such as the world’s largest offshore wind farms, Hornsea One, Two and Three. We are currently delivering the Round 4 EIA and HRA for the bp and EnBW consortium in the UK and supporting the offshore approvals for Australia’s first offshore wind development, Star of the South. We are also providing marine subject matter expertise to support Vineyard Wind, the United States’ first utility-scale offshore wind energy project, and have been selected as ESIA consultant for Equinor’s Firefly floating offshore wind project in South Korea.

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

RPS’ London Stock Exchange ticker is RPS.L.  For further information, please visit www.rpsgroup.com

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Mike Armitage

Technical Director - Ornithology +44 7510 585238 EMAIL
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Dr Simon Zisman

Senior Director, Ecology +44 (0) 131 555 5011 EMAIL

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