Published 1 year ago.
About a 4 minute read.
The first-of-its-kind ReCoral by Ørsted project aims to implement a non-invasive approach for restoring the health of coral reef ecosystems by growing healthy coral colonies on the foundations of offshore wind turbines.
Danish sustainable energy company Ørsted is planning a world-first
attempt to support coral reefs by growing corals on offshore wind turbine
foundations. Together with Taiwanese partners, the company will test the concept
in the tropical waters of Taiwan this summer. The goal is to determine
whether corals can be successfully grown on offshore wind turbine foundations
and to evaluate the potential positive biodiversity impact of scaling up the
According to the UN Environment
coral reefs provide habitat for an estimated 32 percent of all marine species
and benefit 1 billion people worldwide, directly or indirectly. But increased
sea temperatures due to climate change and common chemicals in products such as
are threatening the survival of tropical coral reef
adding to the global biodiversity crisis.
Climate change is becoming the biggest driver of biodiversity loss, and a
substantial expansion of offshore wind is central to tackling these interlinked
crises. Governments are planning a significant build-out of green energy
infrastructure at sea; if done right, Ørsted believes the expansion of offshore
wind energy needed to fight climate change can also integrate solutions that
support and enhance ocean
The ReCoral by
project aims to implement a non-invasive approach for collecting surplus
indigenous coral spawn as it washes ashore and for growing healthy coral
colonies on the foundations of nearby offshore wind turbines.
Increased surface temperatures in shallow waters can lead to coral bleaching.
At offshore wind farm locations further offshore, temperatures are more stable
due to vertical mixing in the water column, preventing extreme temperature
The idea behind ReCoral is that the relatively stable water temperatures at
offshore wind farm locations will limit the risk of coral bleaching and allow
healthy corals to grow on wind turbine foundations. Corals will be grown close
to the water's surface to ensure sufficient sunlight.
In 2020, biologists and marine specialists in Ørsted teamed up with private and
academic coral experts to mature and test the concept. In 2021, the ReCoral team
successfully grew juvenile corals on underwater steel and concrete substrates at
a quayside test facility for the first time. The first trial will begin in June
at the Greater Changhua offshore wind farms in Taiwan to test the concept in
open waters on four separate wind turbine foundations.
“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,” says Mads Nipper, Group President and CEO of
Ørsted. “If we succeed with ReCoral and the concept proves to be scalable,
this Ørsted innovation could create a significant positive impact on ocean
Together with the Penghu Marine Biology Research Center in Taiwan, Ørsted
has developed a non-invasive methodology for coral seeding, in vitro
fertilization, larvae transport and larvae attachment to wind turbine
foundations. Rather than removing anything from existing coral ecosystems,
ReCoral’s non-invasive approach relies on the collection of surplus coral-egg
bundles that wash up on shorelines and would not otherwise survive.
If the trial is successful, Ørsted will explore opportunities for scaling up the
initiative — with the ultimate aim of using additional coral larvae generated at
offshore wind farm locations to restore and enhance threatened near-shore reef
systems. Scaling the initiative could also be critical in helping Ørsted achieve
its ambition to deliver a net-positive impact on
across all of its new energy projects, from 2030 at the latest.
“We’re excited to take part in such a great initiative and partner up with the
world’s most significant player in offshore wind,” says Hern-Yi Hsieh,
Director of Penghu Marine Biology Research Center. “Environmental protection
and marine biodiversity will continue to be one of the key topics of the world
in the coming decade. We’re honored to participate in the project, and we look
forward to more such initiatives in the future.”
The ReCoral concept could be applied to offshore foundations of any kind in
tropical waters around the world. Ørsted will share learnings and the techniques
with the broader coral conservation community and with other wind farm
developers, expecting that the findings will be useful regardless of whether the
ReCoral pilot succeeds.
Published May 10, 2022 2pm EDT / 11am PDT / 7pm BST / 8pm CEST