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Energy systems and their impacts on marine ecosystem services

Papathanasopoulou, Eleni; Beaumont, Nicola; Hooper, Tara; Nunes, Joana; Queirós, Ana M.


Eleni Papathanasopoulou

Nicola Beaumont

Tara Hooper

Joana Nunes

Ana M. Queirós


© 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Global warming and its link to the burning of fossil fuels has prompted many governments around the world to set legally binding greenhouse gas reduction targets which are to be partially realised through a stronger reliance on renewable (e.g. wind) and other lower carbon (i.e. natural gas and nuclear) energy commodities. The marine environment will play a key role in hosting or supporting these new energy strategies. However, it is unclear how the construction, operation and eventual decommissioning of these energy systems, and their related infrastructure, will impact the marine environment, the ecosystem services (i.e. cultural, regulating, provisioning and supporting) and in turn the benefits it provides for human well-being. This uncertainty stems from a lack of research that has synthesised into a common currency the various effects of each energy sector on marine ecosystems and the benefits humans derive from it. To address this gap, the present study reviews existing ecosystem impact studies for offshore components of nuclear, offshore wind, offshore gas and offshore oil sectors and translates them into the common language of ecosystem service impacts that can be used to evaluate current policies. The results suggest that differences exist in the way in which energy systems impact ecosystem services, with the nuclear sector having a predominantly negative impact on cultural ecosystem services; oil and gas a predominately negative impact on cultural, provisioning, regulating and supporting ecosystem services; while wind has a mix of impacts on cultural, provisioning and supporting services and an absence of studies for regulating services. This study suggests that information is still missing with regard to the full impact of these energy sectors on specific types of benefits that humans derive from the marine environment and proposes possible areas of targeted research.


Papathanasopoulou, E., Beaumont, N., Hooper, T., Nunes, J., & Queirós, A. M. (2015). Energy systems and their impacts on marine ecosystem services. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 52, 917-926.

Journal Article Type Review
Acceptance Date Jul 29, 2015
Online Publication Date Aug 25, 2015
Publication Date Aug 22, 2015
Deposit Date Oct 31, 2019
Journal Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Print ISSN 1364-0321
Electronic ISSN 1879-0690
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 52
Pages 917-926
Public URL
Additional Information This article is maintained by: Elsevier; Article Title: Energy systems and their impacts on marine ecosystem services; Journal Title: Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews; CrossRef DOI link to publisher maintained version:; Content Type: article; Copyright: Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.