Carrying out the Maritime Space Management Plans (POEM) cost the Government four years of work and a difficult consensus among all the ministerial departments with powers at sea, the autonomous coastal communities, the sectors involved and civil society. And now they are wondering in the energy sector what will happen to the use of offshore wind power after the general elections on July 23. The POEMs are only the first step so that wind turbines can be seen at sea and the regulatory framework still remains to be established.
The sources consulted show concern about the drift that the momentum of this technology could take after the elections and that Spain could lag behind countries like Portugal and France. The Portuguese country expects to launch its first offshore wind energy auction for the last quarter of the course, with the aim of reaching 10 gigawatts (GW) of installed capacity by 2030, seven more than Spain. For its part, France inaugurated its first offshore wind farm in Saint Nazaire in September last year, with 80 wind turbines and a capacity of 480 MW. But the French country has put the sixth gear and has already launched two new tenders for a total of 2.5 gigawatts (GW).
The idea of the Spanish Executive was to hold the first power auction within the first half of the year, but the electoral advance has meant a 180-degree turn to the country’s political and economic scene and many issues have remained on ‘stand by’. However, since the POEMs were approved by the Council of Ministers at the end of February, the Ministry for Ecological Transition has not made any reference to the bid either and it was very difficult for it to meet the deadline.
Last confrontation with the PP
Offshore wind has been one of the latest energy disputes between the Government and the Popular Party. Alberto Núñez Feijóo’s party demanded from the Executive at the beginning of May that it rectify its management plan for the wind farm, considering that there was not sufficient participation from the sectors involved nor that their allegations were not accepted. “Offshore wind power is an opportunity, so the PP is not against it, what it defends is coexistence, through dialogue with maritime and fishing activity,” said the GPP Fisheries spokesman, Joaquín García Díez .
García Díez called on the Executive to rectify, dialogue and seek the coexistence of offshore wind with fishing activity and the marine ecosystem. “If this government does not do it in a few months, the PP will do it from La Moncloa,” he assured. The fishing sector of Galicia and Asturias (where there are more areas for offshore wind) denounced that the Government has not listened to their demands and PP, Vox, Unidas Podemos and the BNG transferred this concern to the third vice president and head of Ecological Transition Teresa Ribera. In Genoa they affirm that they are not against offshore wind energy, but that they ask for development through dialogue with maritime and fishing activity. The Supreme Court has accepted a procedure for the appeal presented by the Platform in Defense of Fisheries and Marine Ecosystems, which brings together brotherhoods from the northwest of the peninsula, against the Executive’s plan.
For his part, Ribera was forceful in defending environmental guarantees for biodiversity and fishing in the development of planning. “There is only one thing that we could not give up: its approval. There is only one thing that we could not accept, the limitation on opportunities,” he said in the Congress of Deputies. The POEM will be valid for six years (it must be reviewed and updated no later than December 31, 2027) and will identify four areas of high potential for the use of offshore wind with 19 ‘polygons’. Specifically, of the more than one million square kilometers of water that Spain has, almost 5,000 square kilometers will be available for the use of the wind farm, which represents 0.5% of the total.
The POEMs are thus articulated as a key instrument to achieve the objectives of the Roadmap for the development of Offshore Wind and Sea Energy and reach between 1 and 3 GW of installed power in 2030 without compromising the state of the seas . In them, a series of red lines have been marked to delimit the areas in which wind farms can be installed, which are the availability of the wind resource, which will not affect marine biodiversity and other uses of general interest, such as security. in navigation, air safety and national defense. It has also been taken into account that the facilities do not conflict with other present and future activities, such as aquaculture, tourism or fishing.
In this way, for the installation of wind farms, the POEMs take into account fishing, environmentally protected spaces and strategic military spaces, among other factors. According to the Wind Business Association (AEE), in Spain, the impact of offshore wind farms on fishing activity will be reduced. However, from the sector they insist that the rules of the game “govern whoever governs” be established as soon as possible so that the promoters can advance in the processing of the facilities. While working on the design of the projects, some have already requested the scope of the environmental impact study, a tool that does not imply any commitment on their part or from the Administration.
7,500 new jobs
The White Paper on the Offshore Wind Industry in Spain, prepared by AEE in collaboration with Deloitte, estimates a direct contribution of the sector to GDP of 6,116 million euros for the period 2025-2030, considering a scenario in which 75% of the activities take place in the country. Additionally, 1,860 million euros related to the operation and maintenance activities of the wind farms, ship construction, etc. would be added. In addition, in terms of employment, the employers calculate that offshore wind technology will generate 7,523 new jobs between 2025 and 2030 -17,438 specialized professionals by 2045-2050.
Along the same lines, from CC OO they believe that floating offshore wind energy will boost sectors such as shipyards, shipbuilding and the metallurgical industry. In addition, the union assures that it is an “excellent opportunity” to help the electro-intensive industry to lower its costs and to promote the production of green hydrogen. “We should not let the opportunity that offshore wind power offers pass us by at this time and allow other countries to monopolize the industrial development of a renewable generation technology that will undoubtedly end up being installed”, highlights CCOO Secretary for Health and Environmental Sustainability Mariano Sanz.