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Dutch Marine Contractor Exploring Whether Oyster Habitats Can Be Combined With Offshore Wind Farms

  • Van Oord starting research into whether oyster reefs can be established on the undisturbed seabed near offshore wind farms
  • Research effort aims to support large-scale restoration of oyster beds in the North Sea
  • Successful implementation could encourage developers to add oyster reefs to new and existing offshore wind farms

A Dutch marine contractor is conducting research into whether oyster habitats can be sustained alongside offshore wind farms, establishing eight oyster beds at the Borssele Wind Farm in the North Sea.

Van Oord, whose work includes sustainable solutions for offshore wind, oil, and gas infrastructure, is part of the Two Towers consortium testing advanced technologies at an innovation site within the wind farm known as Site V. The 19 MW wind farm is located about 20 kilometers off the coast of the Netherlands and is scheduled to go online in 2021.

One of the technologies being tested is Ecoscour, which looks to help restore flat oyster beds to the North Sea. These beds have been heavily depleted due to overfishing, habitat destruction, and disease, but wind farms offer an area of undisturbed seafloor that could support restoration efforts.

The eight oyster beds at Borssele Wind Farm Site V will feature different kinds of reef structures and other variables, such as the life stage of oysters upon placement and the method in which they are settled. The work is part of an ongoing effort to research the ideal conditions for large-scale oyster reef development and to enable offshore wind developers to incorporate oyster reefs in new or existing wind farms.

Van Oord previously conducted similar research at the 531 MW Luchterduinen wind farm, which is located 23 kilometers off the Netherlands and became operational in 2015. The oyster cage used in the experiment was found to be unsuitable for the site, but it was also determined that oysters were capable of growth and reproduction within offshore wind farms.

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