The EU Offshore Renewable Energy Strategy is a unique opportunity to achieve more quickly the climate neutrality goal in 2050 and at the same time is a major challenge for citizens

The EU Offshore Renewable Energy Strategy is a unique opportunity to achieve more quickly the climate neutrality goal in 2050 and at the same time is a major challenge for citizens. Attaining the production target from offshore renewable energy sources of 60 GW by 2030 and 340 GW by 2050, requires coordinated actions by simplifying the licensing and regulatory framework.

Above all, however, the necessary infrastructure requires public acceptance and consent for the development of offshore wind farms, which will include the participation of local investment schemes. Especially if we take into consideration that the current performance of offshore renewables in the EU is not expected to exceed 2 GW per annum, we need to accelerate investments so that offshore renewable energy sources account for a key component of the EU’s energy mix by 2050.

According to my opinion, the main points of this effort’s progression are the following:

  • The proper positioning of offshore wind farms is the first precondition for offshore renewable energy sources. The Mediterranean area is a promising location for expanding offshore electricity generation in the EU, but it has not yet developed its potential. Best practices from more mature markets, such as the North Sea, can provide the right impetus for investment acceleration and at the same time to comprise an example for increasing the acceptance rates of these projects by the public.
  • In order to unleash the potential of offshore renewable energy sources, we need more appropriate maritime spatial planning procedures, by participating in the consultation of local communities, always respecting the existing nature objectives in the context of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030. It is therefore crucial to have a systematic and additional research on the impact of different offshore renewable energy technologies andinfrastructure in marine ecosystems, marine biodiversity and marine protected areas. It is also essential to create a long-term framework that promotes the healthy coexistence between offshore infrastructure and other uses of the maritime space and contributes to the protection of the environment.
  • Accelerating research and development funding for innovative technologies, such as floating offshore wind, solar, wave and tidal offshore infrastructure, as well asoffshore green hydrogen production, must comprise a key factor in the rapid development of offshore projects. Taking into consideration that the large-scale development of offshore renewable energy sources by 2050 is estimated at almost EUR 800 billion, coordinated actions are needed, both for the development of offshore renewable energy sources in deep waters, as well as for the development of multi-purpose interconnection lines (MPIs).
  • Provided that the overall process of developing offshore renewable energy projects is already time consuming, we will not be able to achieve our goals unless the unreasonably long duration of the licensing process is shortened. And this does not account for a verbal exaggeration, since projects that will commence within the next two years are unlikely to be completed before 2030! In order to accelerate and simplify procedures, consideration could therefore be given to adopting an EU-level licensing regulation with consolidated documentation and prerequisites, which would simplify the conduct of environmental impact assessments and national compliance.
  • Cooperation between Member States is vital to maximize the effective utilisation of offshore energy resources, taking into account the specificities of each region. Through this cooperation, joint planning will be achieved, with a view to removing regulatory barriers, as well as to creating regional maritime spatial use maps, which will be accessible to all stakeholders and will be regularly reviewed by a common monitoring framework.

The development of offshore renewable energy sources is adifficult endeavour. However, it is the key to achieving energy autonomy without dependencies. Proper positioning of relevant projects, market conditions, development of new infrastructure, and simplification of the licensing framework comprise the key points we should focus on in order the development and production of clean energyoriginating from offshore renewable energy sources to be our priority and in Greece, enhancing the share of renewables in our energy mix and offering citizens a lot of green, clean and inexpensive energy.

Maria Spyraki is a Nea Dimokratia-EPP Member of the European Parliament, Co-Chair of the Intergroup on Climate Change and Sustainable Development. This article was published on WorldEnergyNews on 15/02/2022.