The developer behind a controversial renewable-energy scheme planned for off the north-east coast said yesterday the development would host a £2.5million project to study environmental impacts of offshore wind generation.
Swedish energy company Vattehfall said the research programme at the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) was believed to be the largest of its kind.
A panel of experts has been set up to decide how the £2.5million should be spent, and it is inviting applications for funding from organisations interested in studying the environment around the 11-turbine scheme.
EOWDC project director Adam Ezzamel said: “In-depth scientific research and monitoring in a real-time environment is recognised as vital to maximising the learning opportunities for the offshore wind sector.
“We’re pleased that the research will take place at the EOWDC as it underlines the importance of the scheme as a global hub of innovation.
“We are working collaboratively with a number of key environmental agencies to allocate the research budget, and look forward to working closely with the successful parties to facilitate exceptional science.”
Panel members who will decide which applications merit funding include Vattenfall, Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group, Marine Scotland Science, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, RSPB Scotland, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, and the Crown Estate.
RSPB Scotland senior conservation scientist Aly McCluskie said: “Offshore wind has huge potential to help reduce our carbon emissions but we need to improve our understanding of its environmental effects to help ensure developments happen without harming wildlife.
“This research programme at EOWDC provides an excellent opportunity to contribute towards this and RSPB Scotland is very pleased to support its launch.”
The closing date for expressions of interest in the research programme is Friday, September 2.
US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump recently vowed to continue his long-running battle to stop the EOWDC being built within sight of his golf course at the Menie Estate, near Balmedie.
Onshore construction, near Blackdog, is due to start later this year and offshore work will begin in late 2017. The windfarm is scheduled to generate power in spring 2018 and operate for at least 20 years.