The increasing number and size of offshore wind farms (OWFs), combined with the ambitious plans for future developments in the sector, portray a bleak outlook for ‘traditional’ maritime and marine players. The sustained growth of OWFs can cause conflict with other marine users, and thus certain risk control options (RCOs) may need to be adapted in order to maintain navigational safety and reduce the environmental impact of such installations; introducing such measures, however, may be counter-productive in terms of energy efficiency or financial sustainability. This leads to questions such as ‘is there a point when implementing certain RCOs actually makes an OWF project unfeasible’?
In this discussion paper, we describe a holistic and integrated framework that allows decision makers to evaluate the safety, energy efficiency, environmental impacts and financial sustainability aspects of OWFs. We consider a selection of vital factors and parameters in the current framework, and discuss how the different data sets can be integrated into a single framework. We also describe a novel evaluation tool that can allow users to ‘plot’ the output of the proposed framework in a spider diagram form. We conclude by discussing how the proposed work can be employed to optimize the use of limited sea-space.