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Title: The potential and constraints of wind farm development at nearshore sites in the Maltese Islands
Authors: Farrugia, Robert N.
Deidun, Alan
Debono, Godwin
Mallia, Edward A.
Sant, Tonio
Keywords: Wind power plants -- Malta
Sikka l-bajda (Malta)
Coastal engineering -- Malta
Fisheries -- Malta
Issue Date: 2010
Publisher: Multi-Science Publishing Co. Ltd.
Citation: Farrugia, R. N., Deidun, A., Debono, G., Mallia, E. A., & Sant, T. (2010). The potential and constraints of wind farm development at nearshore sites in the Maltese islands. Wind Engineering, 34(1), 51-63.
Abstract: The electrical energy requirements of the Maltese Islands are met in their entirety by two oil-fired electrical generation plants. In view of this complete dependence upon fossil fuels, investigations into the prospects of diversifying electrical generation by resorting to renewable energy technologies are particularly relevant. The archipelago has peculiar characteristics such as high population density, comparatively deep coastal waters and an economy based on tourism, manufacturing, marine-sector activities and services that make the integration of wind power generation projects challenging. Local government authorities commissioned the authors to assess the constraints related to wind farm development in a shallow water coastal area, known as is-Sikka l-Bajda, which could present a wind potential worth exploiting, and to recommend adequate mitigation measures to minimize any impacts and conflicts with stakeholders. These constraints include marine navigational aspects, fishing and aquaculture, tourism and other site-specific activities. Environmental constraints exist including the fact that the site is characterized by extensive seagrass (Posidonia oceanica) meadows, that it is a priority habitat under the EU Habitats Directive, and that the site itself is a reef - another priority habitat within the same directive. The proposed near-shore site is also in the vicinity of a protected coastal bird rafting and bird nesting site for the Yelkouan Shearwater species. Submarine noise generation - particularly during the construction phase - is also of concern in view of the regular sighting of marine mammals in Maltese coastal waters. In the site evaluation exercise, another secondary site in the Maltese Islands, located off the north Gozo coast, was also assessed. Mitigation measures specific to the Sikka l-Bajda site proposed by the authors include the deployment of silt curtains, bubble screens and unobtrusive turbine lighting devices and avoiding utilisation of the reef area closest to the protected bird colony. Such measures also relate to the choice of the array design to minimise visual impact and to the period of the year when wind plant construction and deployment should take place to minimize impact on avifaunal populations. By declaring the marine area contiguous to the proposed nearshore wind facility development as off-limits to fishing vessels, a de facto ‘No-take’ Marine Protected Area can also be effectively instituted. One also expects submerged components of the nearshore wind facility to be colonized within a brief period by a diverse fouling community and that the same components act as Fish Aggregating Devices (FAD’s), greatly enhancing fish populations in the area. In view of the current paucity in Mediterranean nearshore wind power facilities, the proposed project could potentially serve as a pilot project for the whole region, and also become a tourist attraction.
Appears in Collections:Scholarly Works - FacEngME
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