Teresa Simas started her carrier as a marine biologist in 1996 at the New University of Lisbon as associate researcher in the ecological modelling group of the Institute of Marine Research (IMAR). She further got her MSc and PhD degrees on Marine Ecology and has worked as a consultant for the implementation of the European Water Framework Directive in Portugal and for the EIA development of several other marine projects in Portugal. In 2008, she integrated the WavEC Offshore Renewables, a Portuguese non-profit organisation for the promotion and development of the sector. She is since then the head of the Marine Environment area at WavEC, where she has been involved in several research and development projects on the environmental aspects of marine renewable energy. She is also lecturer in the European Master in Renewable Energy (EUREC), at Instituto Superior Técnico, regarding the environmental assessment of marine renewable energy technologies.
Offshore wind: current challenges for sustainable development
Fixed offshore wind farms are becoming more numerous especially around shallow northern European coasts (e.g. UK, Germany and Denmark). However, water depth is a constraint for offshore wind farms deployment since in many other countries (e.g. Japan and USA) the continental shelf drops away suddenly and steeply making the installation of fixed structures much more difficult. Floating offshore wind may represent a major opportunity to transform the potential of this renewable power source, extending the possibility of installing offshore wind farms almost anywhere in the world. Floating wind turbines are proving to be feasible since do not require expensive and difficult-to-install subsea infrastructure and provide the right stability for the turbines to work, reducing platforms drift as well. Two great examples of how far floating wind has come in recent years are Statoil’s Hywind Demonstrator project in Norway and Principle Power’s WindFloat in Portugal. Although these technological advances are allowing offshore wind installations to go into deeper waters, there is still much that is unknown about the effects on the marine environment. Whilst the number and size of offshore wind developments increases, there is a growing need to consider the population level consequences and cumulative impacts of these activities on marine species and the marine environment, towards the sustainable development of the sector. Main issues related with extending offshore wind to deeper areas are going to be discussed and illustrated, where possible, with experience gained during the WindFloat pilot project installed in Portugal.