CWW2022 IS GOING LIVE!  Follow the online stream here

Special Session - Knowledge for policy 

Organized by: the Dutch governmental Offshore Wind Ecological Programme (Wozep) 



What can policymakers do with knowledge on the effects of increasingly large areas of wind turbines at sea on the population sizes of vulnerable bird species? Or with the number of collision victims among bats? Or what can they do with the effect of underwater noise on the spawning behaviour of cod? This knowledge is not only very interesting from a scientific point of view but also of great importance for the ecologically responsible development of offshore wind farms. Knowledge is needed to formulate policy regarding the construction of wind farms, and to estimate the ecological impacts of spatial plans for wind farms. How do we ensure a good match between research development and the effective use of knowledge through policy? In the Netherlands, the government started a major research programme, Offshore Wind Ecological Programme (in short: Wozep) in 2016 in which the ecological effects of wind energy at sea are investigated. Wozep examines the effects of offshore wind farms on birds, bats, marine mammals and the ecosystem. The knowledge developed is used during various steps in the offshore wind energy process: from the designation of wind areas (planning) to the formulation of specific regulations in the permits. By keeping the implementation of the research programme close to policy makers, the ultimate use of this knowledge in policy and management decisions is taken into account when planning the research. Wozep forms the link between research and application within policy. Researchers know that direct use is made of the knowledge they have developed; policy and management receive answers to their questions. Win-win!  During CWW2022 we will present a special session in which the Dutch approach is explained: what is the role of knowledge in the development of offshore wind farms? In this session, researchers will present various Wozep research projects, and the government and the wind energy sector will indicate how this knowledge is used in the various stages of planning.


Special Session - Emerging Markets

Organized by: Natural Power, British Trust for Ornithology, Bureau Waardenburg

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As we strive to achieve net zero to limit global warming to 1.5°C by 2050, we are going to need to see a rapid expansion of renewable energy, particularly wind energy. Achieving this will require a rapid growth, both onshore and offshore, and in new and emerging markets such as Africa, Central and South America, the Middle East and Asia. Many of these regions have higher biodiversity values than more established markets such as Europe and North America, bringing new challenges in when ensuring developments are carried out with consideration for wildlife. These challenges are exacerbated by the fact that many of the tools developed to assess the impacts of wind energy are developed with European or North American markets in mind, and do not reflect the situation in these emerging markets.
At CWW2022, we hope to facilitate discussions around how best to enable a wildlife-friendly transition to renewable energy development in these new and emerging markets. With this in mind, we have planned a session in the conference around the issues faced by emerging markets. We will introduce some of the key challenges as part of a keynote speech by Lori Anna Conzo from the World Bank / International Finance Corporation. We will then hear first-hand from practitioners in countries concerned about the challenges they face, and how they have overcome these through a series of short video presentations. Following this, we will have a special session based around emerging markets highlighting solutions in relation to governance, assessment, monitoring and mitigation. We will round this off with an example of how these solutions have been put into practice to enable the development of a wind farm in an emerging market. In addition to a series of stimulating talks, we hope to offer excellent networking opportunities for researchers and practitioners to discuss how our existing knowledge of wind farm impacts can be best applied at a global scale. We hope that this will be the start of many fruitful collaborations.



Special Session - Offshore WIND goes WILD: subsea habitat modification


Organized by: North Sea ReViFES, TU Delft, Royal NIOZ and Bureau Waardenburg
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The quality of subsea habitats is threatened worldwide by human activities and natural causes such as climate change, with severe impacts on the entire food web from the lower levels up to sea birds and marine mammals. On the other hand, offshore wind has an important role to play to speed up the energy transition and to achieve net zero CO2 emission in the near future. The growth of the offshore wind will only be sustainable if it goes hand-in-hand with preserving healthy marine ecosystems and biodiversity. Plans are being developed for nature protection and restoration and rewilding of seas, sometimes even referred to as a ‘nature transition’. However, the pace of establishing marine protected areas is slow and therefore, pilots for ecosystem restoration and enhancement are now focused on offshore windfarms. Windfarms provide a certain protection of subsea habitats, as bottom disturbing activities are banned from the wind farms during their operational phase in most cases.In this special session participants from governments, wind industry, universities & research institutes, NGO’s and consultancies are warmly invited to discuss the complex interaction between offshore wind development and subsea habitat protection and restoration. 

We will have contributions of researchers with ecological and technical background from France, Belgium and the Netherlands. The interactive discussion will evolve around two topics: 1. subsea habitats and 2. technical interventions: What are effects of offshore wind farms on subsea communities? What can we learn from natural reef functioning? How can we develop technical interventions for nature enhancement in offshore wind farms and on what spatial scale? 

This special session is organized together with the NWO-TTW Project North Sea Reef Vitalization For Ecosystem Services (North Sea ReViFES), focusing on a scientific base for enabling restoration of ecological valuable North Sea reefs, while simultaneously increase understanding of what services restored reefs can deliver and how these can be optimized.


Special Session - Multi-criteria analysis for regional wind power planning and wildlife conservation

Organized by: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm & University of natural resources and life sciences, Vienna (BOCU)

               

This special session will focus on the state of multi criteria approaches (MCA) in strategic wind power planning and will discuss different approaches to mediate trade-offs between multiple sustainability goals including wind and wildlife interactions.

A central task in the 21st century presents itself in the complex trade-off between different conservation and development goals, e.g., biodiversity and wildlife conservation and climate action (so called “green-vs-green” conflicts). While commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve climate neutrality have intensified recently, pressures on biological receptors seem to increase as well. The cumulative pressures on wildlife can be hard to identify at the individual project-level, thus increasing the need for more strategic approaches both in project development and species conservation. Early consideration of wildlife concerns and macro-siting of wind power are considered an important main mitigation concept. Regional planning is one tool for macro-siting that can identify areas of high or low wind-wildlife conflict risks, which allows to define both no-go areas and priority sites for wind power, essentially governing wind power development spatially to less conflictive areas.

However, identifying sites of high and low wind-wildlife-conflicts on a strategic scale while securing the achievement of climate protection targets and other sustainability goals is not trivial due to, e.g., data deficiency, as well as diverse stakeholder interests and values. Trading-off these sustainability goals is part of strategic regional planning and wind energy site selection. If trade-offs are not properly addressed at the appropriate scale, both onshore wind power and wildlife conservation can face major obstacles. Multi criteria analysis (MCA) can support strategic wind energy siting decision- making processes. MCAs allow for transparent and structured consideration of multiple goals and can thus support discussions about trade-offs in decision making and comparison and visualization of different planning scenarios in a traceable way.

This special session will support the advancement of MCA approaches to reduce wind-wildlife conflicts. It will bring together novel research from Sweden, Germany, and Norway in which MCA approaches to mediate wind and wildlife conflicts have been developed and tested.


Special Session - Cumulative Effects from Offshore Wind Energy Development 

Organized by: the Biodiversity Research Institute, UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and the British Trust for Ornithology

          

An understanding of cumulative environmental impacts from offshore wind energy development is critical to inform planning and licensing for this industry. In Europe, potential cumulative impacts pose a significant challenge to the pace and extent of future development. Much of the research conducted on environmental effects of offshore wind energy has been context-specific, and thus limited in its utility to inform a broader understanding of ecosystem and population consequences. As the offshore wind industry is undergoing a rapid global expansion, including new development areas such as the United States, it is vital to ensure that lessons are learned from the European experience.   This special session focuses on the European and North American offshore wind experience to: 1) describe the scientific and policy challenges associated with this issue, 2) explore approaches for improving cumulative effects assessments in the face of uncertainty, and 3) identify a path forward for improving our understanding of cumulative effects, including for regions that are still in an early development phase. The session will be briefly introduced by Aonghais Cook (British Trust for Ornithology) and include six scientific talks: 
  • The gap between the science and practice of cumulative impact assessments (Ed Willsteed, Howell Marine Consulting). An introduction to the scientific dimensions of assessing cumulative impacts and the challenges that these present to practitioners and decision-makers tasked with a sustainable transition to net-zero.
  • Understanding ecosystem responses to offshore wind development to inform cumulative impact assessment (Sue O’Brien, Marine Scotland Science). The PrePARED project is investigating how prey (fish) and predators (seabirds and marine mammals) respond to construction and operation of multiple offshore wind farms in Scotland, to better understand cumulative impacts and inform planning and licensing of future developments.
  • Developing a Cumulative Effects Framework (CEF) to increase transparency, reproducibility and trust in assessments (Kate Searle, UK Center for Ecology and Hydrology). Review of the collaborative development of a data library and cloud-based tool for performing cumulative impact assessments in a transparent and reproducible way across the UK. We will reflect on challenges and lessons learnt, focusing on remaining key knowledge gaps.
  • Assessing population effects of OWF-induced habitat loss for seabirds (Vincent Hin, Wageningen Marine Research). A discussion of the Dutch attempt to estimate cumulative population-level effects of habitat loss resulting from current and planned OWFs in the North Sea (Kader Ecologie en Cumulatie, or KEC), and comparison of results from several different assessment approaches.
  • Expert elicitation approaches to inform cumulative impact assessments (Leslie New, Ursinus College). Discussion of the ‘expert elicitation’ approach to quantifying experts’ knowledge, which enables informed, timely decision-making while incorporating the best available science and supporting ongoing data collection to improve impact assessments moving forward.
  • Developing research priorities to inform understanding of cumulative impacts from a new industry in the U.S. (Kate Williams, Biodiversity Research Institute). Discussion of a recent effort to prioritize key studies to better prepare American scientific and regulatory communities to assess cumulative biological impacts as the industry proceeds in the U.S.
Following these presentations, there will be a 25-minute panel discussion among speakers with the intent of capturing areas of consensus on progress and priorities around cumulative impacts.

 

Pre-conference workshop - GenEst; software for estimating wildlife mortality at wind and solar facilities


Organized by: Manuela Huso, US Geological Survey, Corvallis USA

Mortality estimates are a fundamental tool for studying the impacts of wind turbines on wildlife and how to minimize such impacts. Multiple methods for statistically estimating bird and bat fatalities at wind energy facilities have been developed over the last 20 years, and several are still in wide use. These methods all use some form of a Horvitz-Thompson estimator that accounts for variable detection probability among carcasses. Detection probabilities are not known, however, so must be estimated, and estimators differ in their models and assumptions regarding input parameters, which, if not met, can lead to biased results that can either over- or under-estimate mortality rates. In addition, disagreement over which method is most appropriate can lead to conflicts during project permitting and compliance. How then to develop the most accurate, cost-effective, and comparable estimates possible?

The statisticians who developed several of the wildlife-mortality estimators in current use have worked together to combine them under an over-arching statistical model that has been coded in user-friendly, publicly available software that carries out its complex calculations. This single estimator (GenEst) will greatly simplify the decision process for determining which of the multitude of available estimators is the most appropriate in a given context. Because of this, we anticipate that it will become widely used by consultants to generate summary reports for post-construction monitoring (PCM.) These reports will be evaluated by regulators and wildlife managers to determine impacts to local wildlife populations. But the issues involved in deriving a reasonable, unbiased estimate of mortality from incomplete carcass counts is fairly complex, and concentrated, in-depth training will allow a practitioner or manager to more easily understand how to correctly use the software and interpret its output to make informed assessments.

We offer a half-day workshop where attendees will gain a good understanding of GenEst and its use in producing estimates of wildlife mortality. The workshop will be given by Manuela Huso, GenEst project lead. She will discuss the parameters needed for mortality estimation and optimal field methods to determine search area, search schedule, persistence patterns and efficiency of searchers. The statistical properties of GenEst will be compared to those of other currently available estimators. Participants can expect to leave the workshop with a clear understanding of what can be expected of the software, what influences the level of precision in the estimates they will be interpreting, how decisions made at the design stage, i.e., at the beginning of the monitoring process can ultimately affect the utility of the results, how to interpret resulting output and what information to include (or expect to be included) in reports.Registration will be open to anyone, although prior, basic knowledge of mortality estimation at wind facilities will be very helpful.

IMPORTANT: Bring your laptop with you.

Workshop: Apply knowledge for policy development on a regional sea level

Organized by: North Seas Energy Cooperation (NSEC)



The Challenge: Cumulative ecological impact assessment for future offshore wind farm development in the North Sea and Celtic seas to support international policy development!

Policy in developing offshore renewable energy is characterized by long term planning, short term dynamics and the increasing awareness of the need for international collaboration. Ecology, shipping, fisheries; these are all examples of users and values that in the real offshore world are not limited by national boundaries. For ecology we are looking at a dynamic environment, substantial gaps in data and knowledge and several different approaches and models for impact assessments. This makes the applicability and acceptance of a cumulative assessment very complex.

North European energy ministers and the EU are cooperating since 2016 in developing offshore renewable energy in the North Sea and Celtic Seas, based on a political declaration; the North Seas Energy Cooperation (NSEC).

With scenario studies on Marine Spatial Planning, NSEC is exploring the needs for future cooperation in offshore renewable energy development regarding spatial and ecological issues. What is in such a study an acceptable approach for ecological impact assessment, e.g., not to determine the impacts as exact as possible, but to formulate the questions for international collaboration on a policy level?

Ideas on such an approach have been developed. Marine protected areas and hot spots for certain species are key in this approach. Possible hot spots are, for example, migration routes for birds or areas where harbour porpoises rest with their calves.  But how to deal with the mobility of these species?

You as an ecological expert, MSP expert or policy developer can learn from others by discussing approaches, applicability, regional differences and communalities during this side event. We also value your knowledge and opinion on this complex subject.


Workshop: Don't throw your bat sounds away! A call to add value to monitoring effort at the international level

Organized by: Dr. Charlotte Roemer, Muséum National Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France                     

Environmental impact assessment studies (EIA) demand time and money to conduct field monitoring. Bat species richness and activity is commonly assessed using ultrasonic recorders. In some wind energy projects, recordings are even conducted several months in a row. Raw recordings are usually stored by consultancies for a couple of years, until the project is assessed by environmental authorities. After that, the future of these valuable recordings is uncertain. The reason for that is storage capacity. Organising storage on servers demands a skilled employee. Storage on external hard drives is relatively cheap (less than 100 euros for 1 To) but files generally do not have a mirror copy for security, and handling dozens of external hard drives can be a loss of time. In addition, the heads of consultancies are not always aware of the value of these files.

Yet, these recordings are a gold mine for scientific studies, provided they are conducted with standardised protocols. They have the potential to fuel applied studies on bat population trends and global distribution, or fundamental studies such as the movement ecology of species. The results of these studies can in turn fuel EIA studies with sound bases to assess the current state of bat populations and how they could be affected by wind turbines. So, what can be done to make this virtuous circle a reality?

The project Bat migration routes in Europe started in 2021 and has the aim of collecting and analysing as much existing ultrasonic recordings of bats as possible throughout Europe. It is based on the same data workflow as the French citizen science programme Vigie-Chiro. The databases of these projects are hosted on a governmental datacentre in Lyon, France. During the analysis, the open-source software TADARIDA provides a species identification along with a probability of identification. Vigie-Chiro is already used by French consultancies to (1) use a standardised protocol, (2) benefit from a free identification of their sounds, (3) archive their raw data for free in a secure facility, (4) contribute to a national database, from which scientific results and practical tools such as reference scales of activity levels fuel their EIA studies. Contributors can choose to make their data confidential or not.

During this workshop, the framework of these two projects will be quickly presented, as well as some results and tools that are currently used by French consultancies. Participants of the workshop will then be invited to (1) list the obstacles and the opportunities to build a common European database, and (2) to define conditions to create a common standard for bat acoustic monitoring, i.e., standard settings for each bat recorder model that will make results from different machines comparable. This standard will have no obligatory use but will be recommended, particularly for new bat workers. If it is massively applied, it will greatly facilitate meta-analyses at the international level. It will also facilitate the comparison of bat activity on a specific project with a regional or national mean activity.


Workshop: Why mortality thresholds definition is so difficult?

Organized by: Bioinsight & Ecoa


For more than a decade, the legal framework in environmental impact assessment (EIA) requires the evaluation of impacts at the population level. These requirements have been framed methodologically and statistically since then, but its application, particularly in renewable energy developments, remains scarce.
The recent development of statistical methods to respond to the challenge provide the tools for the unbiased quantification of mortality caused by collisions at wind farms. The most recent model (GenEst) provides unbiased fatality estimates - and the associated uncertainty - from field data on fatalities, considering a set of correction factors. Likewise, the models that study population dynamics have dramatically improved in the last few decades, with parameterization that guarantees the replication of plausible population scenarios. The combination of these techniques makes it possible to identify the quantitative metrics like thresholds of mortality, that can be monitored during the operational phase from a monitoring scheme.
We could arguably frame this as a reasonable approach to be implemented as a standard in EIA, but its application is still limited, particularly for onshore wind farms.This could be attributed to the lack of data, the complexity of statistical and mathematical framework or the entire approach being assumed as a theoretical exercise and not a decision support tool. There are, however, examples where the application of this approach was essential for decision making in the EIA process, particularly for offshore wind farms.
In this session, we intend to address the difficulties in adequately framing this approach and how to incorporate population thresholds in decision support for mitigation actions. We aim to discuss the scope of its application and the arguments for and against its use.Why mortality thresholds definition is so difficult? We lack the tools, the data or the confidence?


Description

During the workshop, the results of the population-level impact of a real-case scenario of collisions with wind turbines will be presented. All steps of the scenario will be presented briefly: i) field data, ii) fatality estimates, iii) population viability analysis, iv) the raw results and v) how it was framed to inform decision-makers.Participants will be presented with the proposed approach, the workshop format and the expected outputs. They will work in groups - ideally with diverse backgrounds (collected from a brief previous questionnaire). Groups will be exposed to a structured questionnaire and asked to provide their perceptions on the pros, the cons and triggers for actions on the several aspects of each step of the presented scenario.The first outcome of this interactive session will allow evaluating different levels of consensus among groups, and the factors that drive these findings. Finally, a guided discussion will collect feedback and summarize the highlights of the organization and main results.
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