Danish energy company Ørsted is planning to support coral reefs by growing corals on offshore wind turbine foundations.
Touted as a world-first attempt, the project will test the concept at the Greater Changhua offshore wind farms in the warmer waters of Taiwan.
The ReCoral project forms part of Ørsted’s plan to protect biodiversity.
Surplus indigenous coral spawn will be collected as it washes ashore and used to grow healthy coral colonies on the foundations of nearby offshore wind turbines.
According to Ørsted, offshore wind farm locations are ideal for this type of project as temperatures are more stable in deeper waters, preventing extreme temperature increases that cause coral bleaching.
Mads Nipper, Group President and CEO of Ørsted, said in a statement: “To halt climate change and create a sustainable future for the planet, its ecosystems, and its people, we must speed up the transition from fossil fuels to renewables. Governments are preparing a significant expansion of offshore wind energy, and I’m confident that if done right, the offshore wind build-out can support and enhance ocean biodiversity.”
He continues: “If we succeed with ReCoral and the concept proves to be scalable, this Ørsted innovation could create a significant positive impact on ocean biodiversity.”
Ørsted will partner with the Penghu Marine Biology Research Center in Taiwan. The team will use a “non-invasive method for coral seeding, in vitro fertilisation, larvae transport, and larvae attachment to wind turbine foundations”.
Rather than removing anything from existing coral ecosystems, this approach relies on the collection of surplus coral egg bundles that wash up on shorelines and would not otherwise survive.
Hern-Yi Hsieh, Director of Penghu Marine Biology Research Center, said: “…Environmental protection and marine biodiversity will continue to be one of the key topics of the world in the coming decade. It’s great to see that, apart from its effort to supply clean energy, Ørsted is also launching its coral project here in Taiwan to promote environmental friendliness. We’re honoured to participate in the project, and we look forward to more such initiatives in the future.”
If this proof-of-concept trial is successful, Ørsted will explore opportunities to scale up the initiative across various locations where reef systems are threatened.