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Hywind Tampen in the Norwegian Sea.
Hywind Tampen in the Norwegian Sea.
Photo: Ole Jørgen Bratland
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Is offshore wind power sustainable?

We know many people are concerned about wind turbines. Do they actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Do they affect fishing and spoil the environment? Do they emit microplastics? Here, we address common questions.

wind turbine. Icon

12-16 GW

We plan to reach an installed net capacity of 12-16 GW by 2030

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> 7,000,000

We’ll power more than 7 million British homes with wind by 2030

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277 turbines

Dogger Bank wind farm will have 277 giant offshore turbines

Growth in renewable energy is at the core of our Energy Transition Plan, and we need to understand how we can achieve this ambition in the most nature-friendly way

Anders Opedal, President & CEO
Anders Opedal. Photo
Sheringham Shoal offshore wind farm seen from Sheringham.
Enlarged photo of Sheringham Shoal offshore wind farm seen from Sheringham.
Photo: Colin Dobinson

What’s the truth about wind turbines? Your questions answered

A lot of people have strong opinions about wind power, challenging the offshore wind industry on concerns such as spoiled views, noise pollution, impact on fisheries, danger to wildlife, or lack of environmental benefits. But is the criticism based on facts? Here, we discuss some key issues.

How can we develop offshore wind, but at the same time minimise impact on nature?

For Equinor, with a growing offshore wind portfolio, managing our business and impact on the marine environment is a priority.

To fully understand the impacts of our wind farms we cooperate with reputable independent scientific organisations to carry out research projects, and we also have a wealth of key learnings and data available from our operations.

We have conducted pilot studies on fish, researched how sound affects wildlife and how wind farms can function as artificial reefs, among other topics.

Throughout our projects we emphasise close cooperation with local communities and authorities, as well as fisheries, defence, tourism and everyone affected by our developments. We have successfully resolved many concerns and challenges.

Developing offshore wind is important for securing renewable energy and creating jobs and green industries. But offshore wind must be developed in line with global commitments to safeguard nature and coexistence.

Fishing boats on the shore in Sheringham.
Fishing boats on the shore in Sheringham.
Photo: Colin Dobinson

Wind farms and coexistence with fishing

Fishing and offshore wind are two industries that require large areas offshore, which can potentially lead to challenges. However, we have seen that openness, cooperation and early dialogue can facilitate coexistence between our industries.

We see that the best results are achieved when all parties such as wind farm developers, authorities, the fishing industry and other commercial players cooperate closely and respect each other. Sharing knowledge and dialogue are key factors, and to pave the way for successful coexistence, we have always emphasised the importance of involving fishers and the local community as early as possible in our projects.

Furthermore, through a partnership with Marine Scotland Science, Equinor has undertaken trials at Hywind Scotland to determine how it is possible to fish safely with certain types of static fishing gear inside the turbine area of a floating offshore wind farm.

These trials provide valuable insights for Equinor's floating offshore wind projects all over the world.

See more about the fishing trials

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Hywind Tampen turbines under construction
Hywind Tampen turbines under construction. Photo: Jan Arne Wold

Wind turbines and microplastics

There have been claims in social media that wind turbines spread quantities of microplastics into nature due to wear on their blades, and that the emissions contain poisonous Bisphenol A.

On behalf of Equinor, SINTEF Ocean has studied the extent to which offshore wind contributes to microplastic emissions, based on data from Hywind Scotland. Sediment samples were collected and extensive analyses of microplastics were carried out from the area and around the offshore wind farm.

The study looked at whether the microplastics inside and outside the wind farm originate from the coating and composite material in the turbine blades.

The analyses show that there were no microplastics from the wind farm in the sediments. Nor were any traces of other material used on the turbines on Hywind Scotland found. However, microplastics originating from other sources were found. The polymers found are some of the most common in marine environments, originating from human activity, such as packaging material.

The method developed in the study was considered robust and fit for purpose. The study of microplastics from sediments is based on established methods, and SINTEF has done a thorough job in developing the method for suitable wind farm areas. This gives us tools for further monitoring of microplastics both around Hywind Scotland and other offshore wind farms.

Further reading:

Hywind Tampen. Photo
Hywind Tampen.
Photo: Ole Jørgen Bratland

Why is wind power needed?

Scientists and climatologists around the world agree that CO2 emissions from fossil fuels must be reduced and that a rapid transition to renewable energy sources is needed.

Harnessing power from the wind is one of the cleanest and most sustainable ways to generate electricity. Wind is abundant and inexhaustible, the most established and efficient renewable energy source in the world today, and a key enabler in the world’s energy transition.

What’s more, wind power enhances energy security by diversifying energy sources. Countries can reduce their dependence on imported fuels and increase their resilience against geopolitical uncertainties and market fluctuations by harnessing their own wind energy.

Wind power is therefore not only needed from an environmental perspective, but is also strategically beneficial, ensuring a more stable and sustainable energy future.

WindturbinDudgeon Offshore Wind Farm. Photo

What are our credentials in wind power?

Equinor has been an active pioneer in offshore wind power since 2009, when we launched the Hywind floating wind turbine, based on our extensive experience from the offshore industry.
Since then we have developed many successful large-scale offshore wind projects: Sheringham Shoal, Dudgeon, Hywind Scotland, Hywind Tampen, and Dogger Bank – and we’re working on new projects in many countries worldwide.

Dudgeon offshore wind farm. Photo
Dudgeon offshore wind farm.