WindEurope says EU countries are not doing enough to integrate offshore wind into the Marine Spatial Plans they are required to produce
Only six countries met the EU deadline for the submission of their final Maritime Spatial Plans. Others will need to ensure their plans are aligned with EU climate goals and allow for the development of offshore wind.
The EU Maritime Spatial Planning Directive required coastal member states to submit their Maritime Spatial Plans to the Commission by 31 March 2021. However, only Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland, Latvia, and Portugal did so. The other 16 failed to send in their plans on time: Germany, France, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden, Romania, Bulgaria and Spain.
Offshore wind will play a central role in helping the EU meet its climate goals and decarbonise its economy. The EU Commission sees offshore wind providing 30% of Europe’s electricity by 2050. The EU Offshore Renewable Energy Strategy set a target of 300 GW of offshore wind for the EU by 2050, 25 times more than what the EU has today.
But many activities already take place at sea, such as shipping, fisheries, sand extraction and military activity. Many areas are protected for marine conservation. To ensure that all these different activities take place in an efficient, safe and sustainable way, governments and stakeholders are required to undertake Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP), which allows governments to plan and decide on the spatial and temporal distribution of activities and uses in the sea.
“The way forward is simple,” said WindEurope. “Member states must finalise or adapt, approve and submit their Maritime Spatial Plans as soon as possible.
“And they must ensure that the plans are consistent with their respective National Energy and Climate Plans and the EU’s energy and climate objectives. This means allocating enough space for offshore wind and ensuring the electricity grid can accommodate this. It also means providing for the happy co-existence of different uses and activities at sea, such as offshore wind and aquaculture, military activities, nature conservation and tourism.”
Belgium completed its Maritime Spatial Plan back in 2020 and it gives a good example on how to unlock offshore wind energy (2 GW) in a very crowded sea space through a multiple-use approach. “But things don’t look so good in other countries,” said WindEurope.
“Denmark submitted its final plan, but consultations are still open and there are disagreements on the multiple-use of some areas. The Netherlands submitted a plan but may wish to revise it now there is a new government. Germany managed to allocate around 20 GW of priority areas for offshore wind expansion but is still going through the final consultation process on its plan and aims to submit it by September 2021.
“France has published four ‘Documents Stratégiques de Façade’ but won’t submit its final plan before Q4 2021. Ireland’s is only slightly delayed. In the Baltics, Finland adopted its Plan in 2020, allocating areas for around 15 GW of offshore wind. But national defence requirements might set important limitations. Estonia, Poland and Sweden should submit plans in the coming months, but Lithuania is still in the revision process, and in the Mediterranean, Greece and Italy are far from having their Plans ready.”