Offshore wind production is a critical tool for accelerating green energy production and driving climate solutions. Across coastal New England especially, offshore wind leases serve as a vital clean energy opportunity that meets renewable energy targets, many of which are detailed in state climate legislation and decarbonization goals. Data shows there is massive potential for clean energy generation in the Northeast, and that wind energy can provide substantial savings and reduced price spikes during severe weather events.
But what if in addition to green power, offshore wind platforms could be combined with restorative nature-based systems to establish healthier coastal habitats and ecosystems?
As a global ocean health company, Running Tide is capable of providing exactly that type of solution set. For offshore wind platforms, Running Tide’s ecosystem mitigation and ocean health interventions include coastal habitat restoration, species stock enhancement, ecosystem enhancement, and green infrastructure. All these solutions can be implemented alongside green energy production within offshore wind leases as we enter 2023.
Running Tide’s holistic suite of nature-inclusive solutions can help the offshore wind industry further its lead as one of the most sustainable forms of renewable energy on the planet. We believe that the integration of offshore wind and targeted biological restoration efforts represent an invaluable opportunity to reduce emissions from energy generation, all while mitigating impacts and enhancing affected habitats.
Together with the offshore wind industry, we can achieve the mitigation of impacts and the enhancement of wind farm habitats across across the globe through interventions that include:
- The planting of keystone species of shellfish and macroalgae to improve overall ecosystem health and function.
- The piloting of habitat enhancing underwater cable protection that improves water quality and amplifies natural carbon sequestering processes within the ocean.
- The monitoring of impacts as a result of these interventions and adaptively managing them over time.
Running Tide’s suite of interventions can be integrated into all major stages of offshore wind development, including the design, construction, operation, and even decommissioning stages. We conduct site-specific testing and data collection to identify the most environmentally appropriate solutions for our partners, and make recommendations based on our analyses. A holistic approach that combines macroalgae, shellfish, and water quality enhancing substrates ensures we achieve the best environmental outcomes for each lease. Additionally, we provide a closely monitored baseline of ecological and oceanographic conditions over time, including environmental DNA.
Running Tide has identified bivalves, macroalgae, and beneficial substrates as the most effective combination for marine restoration. Bivalves are well known as critical ecosystem engineers, serving vital roles associated with nutrient cycling, water quality maintenance, sediment stabilization, and more. Shellfish populations are physiologically stressed due to ocean acidification and climbing ocean temperatures, and introducing certain minerals into a targeted environment serves to locally mitigate these stresses. Additionally, many ecologically important species show enhanced survivability in less acidic waters, including sea urchins, starfish, and many forms of algae and larvae.
With the addition of kelp forests to provide essential fish and invertebrate nursery habitats, biodiversity enhancement, and further nutrient cycling and oxygenation benefits, organisms in this environment are given the best possible opportunity to propagate and grow into self-sustaining populations as part of a healthy ecosystem. The Nature Conservancy’s research estimates that one hectare of marine area colonized by appropriate shellfish and macroalgae species can filter up to 25 million gallons of seawater per day, remove as much as half a ton of nitrogen, increase marine fauna by approximately 1.5 times on average, and increase the abundance of wild fish populations by up to 5 tons in a single year.
As Running Tide continues to build upon our tailored suite of interventions, we look forward to continued engagement with the offshore wind sector, across a variety of applications. If you are interested in learning more, or know of a location that may benefit from our interventions, please get in touch. Together, we can forge a relationship that delivers meaningful ocean-positive outcomes, ensuring that offshore wind energy produces a net positive impact on our shared environment.
Adam Baske is the VP of Coastal Markets and Restoration at Running Tide. You can reach him by emailing email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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