Ørsted and Eversource Partner with Mystic Aquarium for Offshore Wind and Marine Life Research

Ørsted and Eversource, developers of Connecticut’s first offshore wind farm, Revolution Wind, have entered a multi-year research partnership with a nonprofit organisation Mystic Aquarium to conduct studies of the effects of offshore wind turbines on marine mammals and sea turtles.

“Developing more clean, renewable energy is critical in combatting the impacts of climate change on our oceans and on wildlife. As the world’s most sustainable energy company, Ørsted is committed to the responsible development of offshore wind and has prioritized understanding and supporting positive biodiversity through our projects. We’re glad to partner with the Mystic Aquarium to ensure the offshore wind can coexist with marine life and to advance more clean energy projects that will stave off the worst impacts of climate change,” said Nicole Verdi, Ørsted Senior Manager of Government Affairs and Policy, New England.

The research partnership, a part of a 1.25 million dollar grant Ørsted and Eversource awarded to Mystic Aquarium announced last year, is set to provide valuable data to scientists studying the impacts of the climate crisis, as well as to educate the public on the solutions to these challenges.

“We firmly believe that offshore wind and marine life can successfully coexist, and today we double down on our commitment to developing offshore wind in an environmentally responsible way by partnering with Mystic Aquarium, the leading marine life research facility in the Northeast. Through this partnership we will support new, vital research that will help us further refine our ability to construct essential renewable energy projects that will help minimise the devastating impacts of climate change on marine environments and our local communities,” said Ray Collins, Eversource Manager of Government Affairs and Community Relations for Offshore Wind.

During the partnership, scientists will focus on the investigation of the occurrence of marine mammal strandings before and after the construction and operation phases of Ørsted and Eversource’s three offshore wind farms: South Fork Wind, Revolution Wind, and Sunrise Wind, development of biomarker technology to assess the physiological response to offshore wind power systems and to conduct long-term health monitoring, tagging and tracking of seals and sea turtles in relation to offshore wind development and operation, furthering the development of non-invasive sample collection for health monitoring, and investigating the utility of environmental DNA (eDNA), such as through water samples, to detect the presence of sea turtles and seals.

“Offshore wind energy will play a significant role in fighting climate change, which is one of the biggest threats to the health of marine ecosystems. We absolutely need the benefits of renewable offshore wind energy to help stem environmental damage caused by fossil fuels, but we also need to ensure that wind turbines are installed and operated in a responsible manner that minimises negative impacts on the marine ecosystem,” said Katie Cubina, Acting President and CEO of Mystic Aquarium.

The research partnership will also provide additional content for the Aquarium’s Ocean Solutions gallery, which focuses on the role of oceans in helping to solve global biodiversity and climate crises through the establishment of marine protected areas and the responsible use of renewable ocean energy.

“This gallery educates students, educators, and the public about renewable ocean energy and introduces young people to blue economy careers. Expanding the exhibit to engage people in the research necessary to ensure that the offshore wind industry is proceeding with the best available science to do so sustainably is really key to our mission,” Cubina said.

The Aquarium said that data gathered while using satellite tags through a collaboration with Ørsted, Eversource, and the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society (AMSEAS), is extremely valuable.

“Our Animal Rescue Program contributes knowledge about the health of these animals, reasons why they come ashore, their ecosystem, and the environment overall and provides us an opportunity to tag them to gather additional important data as they are released. This gives us a much greater understanding of how to address a variety of issues that impact our oceans and marine life,” said Dr. Tracy Romano, Mystic Aquarium’s Chief Scientist.

Revolution Wind farm will be located 32 miles southeast of Connecticut, 15 miles south of Rhode Island, and 12 miles southwest of Martha’s Vineyard. It is a 704 MW project expected to provide enough clean, renewable energy for more than 350,000 homes in Connecticut and Rhode Island beginning in 2025.

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Photo: BOEM (Illustration)