Do subsea power cables disturb the marine environment? What could their potential impacts on marine benthic life?
Over 5000 offshore wind turbines are now grid-connected in Europe (and this new activity is expected soon in the French economic exclusive zone !) and marine power connexions are reinforced between European countries, increasing the number of electric cables at sea. Therefore, their potential impacts on benthic habitats and species have to be investigated.
The SPECIES project aims to characterize the disturbances linked to the installation and functioning phases of subsea power cables and to better understand if ecological impacts may exist in the benthic compartment. To do so, we take into account direct interactions (impact of electromagnetic fields; habitat potential of artificial protection structures) and indirect ones (regulation of bottom fishing activities around the cables).
In situ surveys of emitted electromagnetic fields and temperature as well as potentially influenced benthic communities (both sessile and mobile species) are conducted on several functioning power cables (marine renewable energy test sites; island and transboundary connexions). Lab experiments are also achieved to study in a controlled manner the impact of magnetic fields on the behavior of two models (European lobster and the great scallop).
A PhD thesis (Bastien Taormina) has been achieved in the framework of this project.
Antoine Carlier (LEBCO), Nicolas Desroy (LER-BN) & Morgane Lejart (France Energies Marines)