Fossil and renewable energy production takes places in proximity to or within the Wadden Sea. The development of offshore wind energy in the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark has been rapid in the last decades and will even speed up in this decade. Up to now, more than 2,000 wind turbines have been built offshore in the North Sea within the territorial waters and the EEZs of the three countries. Although the Wadden Sea conservation area is exempt from wind farm development the grid connections and interconnectors traverse the Wadden Sea as well, also affecting the area directly. Beside wind energy, the North Sea is also a place for the exploitation of fossil fuels. Crude oil is exploited from one platform in Schleswig-Holstein in the German Wadden Sea since 1987 and there are several gas mining projects in the Netherlands that extend under the Wadden Sea. For the transportation of fossils from those platforms and further offshore installations to the mainland and for interconnection of countries several cables and pipelines were installed crossing the Wadden Sea.
Although the expansion of regenerative energy is necessary to combat climate change all kinds of energy production can also have effects on the environment. Impacts are construction-related (e.g., underwater noise, disturbance of the seafloor), operational (e.g., electromagnetic fields, heat dissipation, spills or ground surface subsidence) or plant-related (collision risk for migrating birds and scaring of birds, sealing of surfaces). All forms of energy production cause an increase in ship traffic and also aerial traffic due to construction and maintenance of facilities with scaring effects for birds and marine mammals and an increased risk of accidents.
There are numerous international and national guidelines for the promotion, regulation, and spatial planning of renewable energy (construction and grid connections) and for the exploitation of oil and gas in force, both in the adjacent areas and within the territorial waters. This report gives an overview about the most important policies and regulations regarding the Wadden Sea. The Wadden Sea Plan (2010) presents the common policy that no wind turbines shall be erected in the Nature Conservation Area. This is incorporated in the Danish legal ordinance, the German national park laws and the Dutch nature reserve (PKB area). Both, for Wadden Sea Plan Targets, as well as for the OUV criteria and their key values examples for energy production related impacts and measure are given. Furthermore, an analysis on the (potential) conflicts of energy from oil and gas and renewable energy production and transportation activities with the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) according to its criteria and the associated key values is presented.