Sustainable blue economy

Alternative ocean energy: a perfect match with offshore wind?

In the framework of the eMSP NBSR project, a meeting with the Community of Practices on Sustainable Blue Economy (SBE) was held in the Hague on the 30th of November. About 50 participants from industry, policy and research from the North Sea and Baltic Sea regions joined the debate on the integration of alternative energy in offshore wind farms.

The results will be used to formulate recommendations on how to adapt marine spatial planning and regulations accordingly.

Whereas the currently announced acceleration in offshore wind is an important challenge for the offshore market in itself, we should make sure we unlock in parallel the enormous potential of complementary technologies. Only when we look at the complete energy system, balancing production and consumption, seeking for lowest possible costs while respecting ecosystem quality, the energy transition will be a success. Although offshore wind is still the cheapest way to realize large megawatts of renewable energy, solar can be a disruptive technology in the pursuit for diversification, hybridization and electrification of the energy system.

“Solar is the champion when looking at the speed of reducing levelized cost of energy and will be coming to the sea anyway”
Tine Boon

Combination of offshore renewables allows to increase utilization per square meter of sea space. Wave energy and solar offer complementary electricity production to wind power and allow for more reliable energy systems. Combining wave, wind and solar will lower the cost of the energy system. Lowering the CAPEX through shared infrastructures, and lowering the OPEX through shared vessels, O&M and effective maintenance.

Next steps are the technical integration of alternative forms of energy in wind parks and the grid connection. In order to plan co-use effectively in the design stage of a wind farm, clarity is needed for procedures to enter and operate within a wind farm, mechanisms for sharing responsibilities, assuring space available for wind turbines and sharing facilities, equipment and infrastructure. All these aspects should be integrated in either marine spatial planning or tendering procedures.

However, a multi-use context will change the group dynamics. In order to create motivation and value for all parties, it is important not to stick to promises and rethink the blue economy based on data-driven and technology-driven approaches. Adaptive policies and collaboration between government and industry is needed and new forms of stakeholder involvement are required. The latter should combine ideas and expertise in innovative ways, leverage science and technology, and help change the practices of planning, governing and using our seas.

Read the full report of the Community of Practice Energy HERE.

This Community of Practice (CoP) is organized as part of the eMSP NSBR project (Emerging ecosystem-based maritime spatial planning topics in the North and Baltic Sea Regions) and focuses on the learning strand ‘sustainable blue economy’. We invite several experts from the North Sea and Baltic Sea regions to develop a strong community around the development of sustainable blue economy and marine spatial planning as a potential driver.

Information on the upcoming event is HERE.

Prepared by Lien Loosvelt & Kinnie De Beule (De Blauwe Cluster VZW), & Margarita Vološina (VASAB Secretariat) December, 2022