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The Rich North Sea

Turbine foundation design creates new home for marine life


Utility Vattenfall and nature conservation organization The Rich North Sea (De Rijke Noordzee) started a joint study to find out if turbine foundations can support marine life. While previous studies focused on nature enhancement projects in the vicinity of turbines, both organizations want to know if the structures themselves can contribute to nature development. Water replenishment holes in the foundations offer an opportunity for fish and other marine species to enter and leave again. The study is aimed at finding if they use the inside of the turbine foundations to settle, shelter and as a feeding ground. The study is conducted at the Hollandse Kust Zuid wind farm.

It is the first time that research is conducted into what the water replenishment holes could mean for marine life. “If the results meet our expectations, this will boost marine biodiversity”, says Erwin Coolen, program director of The Rich North Sea. “Nature inclusive design is the future. I am proud we are working with Vattenfall on these kinds of innovative solutions, that will provide our country with sustainable energy while strengthening the environment at the same time.” Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research NIOZ is involved in the study too.

Blueprint for future wind farms
The elliptical openings measure approximately 30 centimeters by 1 meter and are located above the seabed and just below the water surface. Over the next couple of years data will be collected on several occasions to check the development of biodiversity. Last winter, scientists from The Rich North Sea carried out their first series of measurements. Findings will be included in a toolbox called “Nature development in wind parks” that The Rich North Sea will develop. Its open-source character makes it easy and cost-efficient to start up new projects.

Nature-inclusive design
Vattenfall wants to increase biodiversity in wind farms and gain more insights. Gijs Nijsten, responsible for sustainability at Hollandse Kust Zuid: “Offshore wind is growing rapidly and will continue to expand significantly over the next years. We are constantly looking for ways to minimize the impact our projects have on the ecosystem. Continuous innovation and modification of turbines has led to an ever improving balance between sustainable produced electricity and a healthy ecosystem.”

About Hollandse Kust Zuid wind farm
Wind farm Hollandse Kust Zuid is owned by Vattenfall and BASF. It is located 18 to 34 kilometers off the Dutch coast, between the city of The Hague and Zandvoort, with a total area of approximately 225 km2. The wind farm has a total installed capacity of 1,500 MW and is expected to be fully operational in 2023. At that time, it will be the largest offshore wind farm in the world and the first subsidy-free offshore wind farm in Europe. Homepage - Windpark Hollandse Kust Zuid. (

About The Rich North Sea
The study with Vattenfall is one of the projects that The Rich North Sea is carrying out into nature development in offshore wind farms and improvement of biodiversity. Four years ago, The Rich North Sea was founded by environmental organisations Natuur & Millieu and Stichting De Noordzee. Without bottom fishing marine life gets a chance to recover and flourish again. The Rich North Sea is able to realise this ambition thanks to a contribution from the Dream fund of the Nationale Postcode Loterij.

About Vattenfall
Vattenfall is a leading European energy company, which for more than 100 years has electrified industries, supplied energy to people’s homes and modernised our way of living through innovation and cooperation. We now want to make fossil-free living possible within one generation. That's why we are driving the transition to a sustainable energy system through initiatives in renewable production and climate smart energy solutions for our customers. We employ approximately 20,000 people and have operations mainly in Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, and the UK. Vattenfall is owned by the Swedish state. For more information:


The Rich North Sea