Birds and offshore wind farms

Flying wildlife

Flying wildlife monitoring: an issue for the environmental integration of ORE

Knowledge to be developed about interactions between ORE and flying wildlife

Understanding the interactions between flying wild and offshore renewable energies is an issue that is still poorly understood, requiring improved knowledge and the development of monitoring technologies. The initial approach consists of carrying out an inventory of knowledge based on bibliographical research and the involvement of networks of expert ornithologists and chiropterologists. It is based on three axes:

  • Carrying out a state of the art study on the ecology of the avifauna present in the areas where future farms will be installed (phenology, habitat use, issues);
  • Synthesising knowledge on existing monitoring integrating all the technologies deployed;
  • Identifying the general interactions (risks and level of intensity) between offshore wind farms and birds according to the different stages of project life (exploration, installation, operation, maintenance, decommissioning).

This first step is essential to precisely identify knowledge gaps and prioritise study needs.

Significant issues  regarding maritime spatial planning

The purpose of maritime spatial planning is to ensure the maintenance and development of activities at sea through coherent cross-sectoral and cross-border management. Thus, in French metropolitan waters, vocation maps for the development of offshore wind farms have been produced. In these pre-identified areas, a process of evaluation of the economic and environmental issues is being implemented in order to determine areas with fewer constraints in which calls for tenders will be carried out. France Energies Marines is involved in this process by supporting the acquisition of knowledge and contributing to the public debates organised upstream of the ORE projects. The Institute also participates in international working groups dedicated to the qualification and quantification of avifauna issues (CEAF, WREN). France Energies Marines is thus working to take these issues into account in the development of offshore wind farms.

Setting up a flying wildlife observatory architecture

The monitoring of seabirds and migratory birds is a major component for the integration of wind and tidal turbines at sea, as the behaviour of these animals at sea remains poorly known. The technological revolution of recent decades has led to the development and miniaturisation of high-performance devices for direct monitoring in the natural environment (e.g. bio-logging). At the same time, new methods for passive monitoring of avifauna have been developed (e.g. radar, passive acoustics). In collaboration with numerous partners, France Energies Marines is working on a global architecture of complementary instruments dedicated to the observation of avifauna in the Mediterranean Sea (ORNIT-EOF project). The ecological knowledge that will be acquired will enable the environmental integration of ORE to be further optimised: migration routes, use of the marine habitat, speeds, height of flight… 

The recent launch of DRACCAR, the first French research platform at sea dedicated to offshore wind power, coupled with an innovative R&D programme, will improve the understanding of the interactions between offshore wind power and the environment, the optimisation of the design of wind turbines and allow co-construction of a permanent observation network of the seafronts.

Developing technologies adapted to the monitoring of sensitive avifauna

Despite technological progress, the monitoring of birds in the wild faces significant operational difficulties, in particular because of the necessary compromise between the quality of the data collected, the degree of impact of the instrument on the animal and the financial cost of monitoring. The bio-logging technologies available to date do not meet all the needs, particularly for medium to small species (e.g. shearwaters). By relying on recognised experts and cutting-edge technologies, France Energies Marines is involved in the development of innovative instruments that can be.

Photo credit: Gigra / AdobeStock


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Cécile Bon

Cécile Bon

Research Fellow on Avifauna and Offshore Renewable Energies

Yann Planque

Yann Planque

Research Fellow on Avifauna and ORE interactions


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