Maik Hünefeld
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North Sea habitat

The top priority during the installation and operation of offshore wind turbines is the protection of flora and fauna. The exploitation of wind energy at sea is subject to numerous guidelines and laws. In the approval procedure for offshore wind farms, which is carried out by the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH), environmental compatibility is a key factor.

Generally speaking, all approved offshore wind farms are located far from the coast for reasons of tourism and protection of the natural environment. We are referring here to the 12 nautical mile limit, which is also referred to as EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone). In this zone the average depth of the water is 20 to 40 metres. The EEZ occupies an area of 28,600 km2.

In accordance with the so-called Offshore Installations Ordinance, the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency has responsibility for approvals relating to the EEZ. In view of the fact that the development of offshore wind farms is at an exploratory stage, a special approval procedure applies. In particular, wind turbines have to overcome technical challenges such as those relating to structural and operational safety, and environmental compatibility.