BOEM presents research on how power cables affect marine organisms

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) recently released research related to how electromagnetic fields from submerged power cables affect fish and invertebrates, as part of its work to engage stakeholders on the development of offshore renewable energy.

The purpose of this study was to shed light on the potential effects of energized, seabed-deployed power cables on marine organisms, broadly applicable to planned and future renewable energy projects in the Pacific Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) region and other OCS planning areas, BOEM says.

BOEM says four key findings stand out.

  • Significant differences were not observed in the fish communities living around energized and unenergized cables and natural habitats
  • No compelling evidence was revealed to show that the EMF produced by the energized power cables in this study either attracted or repelled fish or macro invertebrates
  • EMF strength dissipated relatively quickly with distance from the cable and approached background levels at about 1 meter from the cable
  • Cable burial would not appear necessary strictly for biological reasons

Researchers placed EMF meters on the sea floor along submerged power cables and collected data over three years. The experimental design tested for the effect of inshore versus deep water cable placement. Researchers conducted 38 days of fish surveys, 30 days of invertebrate studies and 38 days of plant studies.

More detailed data is available on the research itself. Click here.

BOEM’s Environmental Studies Program develops, funds and manages rigorous scientific research to inform policy decisions regarding the development of energy and mineral resources on the OCS. BOEM’s Office of Renewable Energy Programs oversees the development of offshore wind, wave and current energy.

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Elizabeth Ingram is content director for the Hydro Review website and HYDROVISION International. She has more than 17 years of experience with the hydroelectric power industry. Follow her on Twitter @ElizabethIngra4 .

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