MERMAID: Innovative Multi-purpose off-shore platforms: planning, Design and operation
In the near future, the European oceans will be subjected to a massive development of marine infrastructures. The most obvious structures include offshore wind farms, constructions for marine aquaculture and the exploitation of wave energy. The development of these facilities will increase the need for marine infrastructures to support their installation and operation and will unavoidably exert environmental pressures on the oceans and marine ecosystems. It is therefore crucial that the economic costs, the use of marine space and the environmental impacts of these activities remain within acceptable limits. Hence, offshore platforms that combine multiple functions within the same infrastructure offer significant economic and environmental benefits.
MERMAID will develop concepts for the next generation of offshore platforms which can be used for multiple purposes, including energy extraction, aquaculture and platform related transport. The project does not envisage building new platforms, but will theoretically examine new concepts, such as combining structures and building new structures on representative sites under different conditions. Deltares mainly focusses on a) the environmental impact assessment, b) technical feasibility of new offshore concepts, c) tools supporting the logistic challenges and d) (socio) economic impact.
Test study sites
Four offshore test study sites with different environmental, social and economic characteristics have carefully been selected for their specific challenges. The sites are located at four different seas:
- The Baltic Sea – a typical estuarine area with fresh water from rivers and salt water.
- The North Sea – a typical active morphology site close to the Wadden Sea.
- The Atlantic Ocean – a typical deep water site.
- The Mediterranean Sea – a typical sheltered deep water site.
With the results from these studies, a verified procedure (tool) will be generated to select the most appropriate design options for a given offshore area. This procedure should be generic enabling stakeholders and end-users to use it for marine planning strategies.