The compatibility of the ecological protection zones and economic concerns are regulated in an extensive approval process. A great deal of detailed work goes into this.
A project of this kind can only be approved if it:
- does not endanger the marine environment and all protected species such as fish, microorganisms, birds and marine mammals,
- does not impinge upon the safety of shipping
- does not conflict with the requirements of regional development or other public concerns such as the safeguarding of raw materials, national defence or fisheries.
A survey is made of the flora and fauna
At the outset, a survey is made of the flora and fauna. This is an integral component of the environmental sustainability study, which determines precisely which and how many species are present in the project area. This enables the impact of the construction work and later of operation to be fully understood.
This is carried out mostly through sight observation, acoustic soundings, exploration by ship and digital data collection from the air for birds and porpoises and by investigating the sea bed and fish stocks.
The initial survey was carried out in 2013 and 2014
The initial survey prior to construction forms the basis and other surveys are carried out monthly during the construction phase lasting no more than two years and in the first year of operation. The initial survey for Sandbank was carried out in 2013 and 2014.
The multi-stage approval process takes into account the assessments of a variety of interest groups such as conservation, large and small craft, fisheries and wind energy associations and of the German environmental protection agency.
For Sandbank, nothing stood in the way of approval once the survey documents had been submitted and a two-year environmental sustainability study evaluated.
In order to gain key insights into the interests of the eco-friendly operation and construction of subsequent projects, the environmental impact will continue to be monitored during the construction and operating phases.
Conservation of marine mammals
Photo: The hydrosound damper being tested
When installing the foundations, special attention is given to protecting porpoises, whose sensitive hearing might be damaged by the impact sound emissions caused when installing the foundations. For this reason, a multi-level sound damping system is used:
Before installation commences, so-called pingers and seal scarers are used to generate sounds that warn the marine mammals and drive them away from the construction site. The first few minutes of the subsequent pile driving are conducted as a so-called soft start, which announces the subsequent main pile driving phase.
The actual soundproofing system consists of a hydrosound damper (HSD) and a double bubble curtain. This enables the sound emissions from driving the piles to be considerably reduced.
Sandbank wind farm area
The Sandbank offshore wind farm project area is located 90 kilometres off the coast of Sylt in the German North Sea and is therefore not visible from land or from the islands just off the coast.
More about the wind farm area
News about Sandbank
The construction of Vattenfall and Stadtwerke München’s 288 MW Sandbank offshore wind farm started in June 2015. Read more about what's happening in the project on our news page.
Read the latest Sandbank news
Technology and components
Once the wind farm is completed, 72 wind turbines spread out over an area of 60 square kilometres will be using their vast rotor blades to turn the powerful North Sea wind into green energy.
More about the technology
The ships in action
Five specially-selected ships will be used during the various construction phases of the project. At peak times up to ten vessels are in action in the wind farm at the same time.
Read more about the ships