Offshore wind giant to use turbine foundations to “rewild” North Sea

ocean orsted

Danish renewable energy giant rsted is expanding its sustainability efforts, partnering this week with ARK Nature to explore “rewilding” opportunities in the North Sea in an effort to restore vital ocean biodiversity.

rsted is one of the world’s leading developers of offshore wind, aiming to boost its capacity from 13GW installed at the end of 2021, up to 50GW by 2030, and it aims to become “net-zero” by 2040.

As part of its diversity push, rsted announced this week that it will partner with ARK Nature, one of the founding partners of Rewilding Europewhich aims to create conditions in which nature can recover and thrive over the long term.

However, the rewilding approach has not been trialled at scale in the marine environment, where the challenges to biodiversity and ecosystem health are particularly acute.

rsted and ARK Nature will test the potential of rewilding principles in restoring vital ocean biodiversity and will begin with an effort to restore shellfish reefs in the North Sea, where a marine field lab will be established.

Shellfish reefs are crucial to ocean ecosystems as they play host to reef builders such as oysters and mussels, and also provide food, shelter, and breeding grounds for a range of other species, and improve water quality.

Cultivation of mussels at Sea. Image Credit: ARK Nature

Orsted says its offshore wind projects under construction or planned for the North Sea could provide much needed locations to host shellfish reefs.

“When it comes to tackling the climate crisis and biodiversity loss, there’s a real need for speed,” said Rasmus Errboe, head of region continental Europe at rsted.

“We need urgent action – but that speed must not come at the expense of nature, and Ørsted believes it doesn’t have to. With this new collaboration, I’m excited to add to our existing, ambitious global biodiversity program.

“Together with ARK, rsted will implement innovative new restoration projects and study how rewilding can contribute to improving the health of our oceans, and how the offshore wind sector can enhance that contribution.”

Once the rewilding efforts have been sufficiently tested and proven to have long-lasting benefit for marine ecosystems and their inhabitants, rsted and ARK hope that the lessons could be applied at a larger scale around the globe.

“ARK Nature and rsted are ultimately pursuing the same goal: self-sustaining, healthy oceans,” said Jos Rademakers, CEO of ARK Nature.

“We’ll aim to restore the vital natural processes and contribute to creating wind farms that have an overall positive impact on nature and humanity. And we know we have to deliver that impact as soon as we possibly can.”

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