Member states sharing a sea basin will have to work together to plan the use of the sea according to a proposed new European Commission directive
The proposed directive on maritime spatial planning and integrated coastal management, published in March, has been welcomed by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). The directive should allow the European wind energy sector to make planned investment decisions based on a mapped use of sea space which should subsequently create growth and jobs in maritime sectors according to Anne-Bénédicte Genachte, Offshore Regulatory Affairs Advisor for the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).
“It will also facilitate the creation of a transnational European offshore electricity grid by encouraging Member States to map areas for electricity infrastructure at sea,” she added.
Grid investments may be less effective without cross-border cooperation and the Offshore Grid Project believes that clustering of wind farms in hubs across borders could save as much as 14 billion Euros compared to the connection of individual wind farms to the shore.
Offshore wind energy reached a total of 5GW in the EU in 2012 with a projected rise to 40GW by 2020. This should create 170,000 jobs reaching 300,000 by 2030 when capacity should have risen further to around 150GW. Offshore wind can experience project uncertainty and delays arising from conflicting uses and rules across different sectors, thereby impairing potential for growth. Such risks could be increased by a lack of spatial planning and the proposed directive is intended to counter this by providing a stimulus for planned use of the sea for a range of activities including energy, transport, fisheries, leisure and environmental protection.