The Council of Ministers has approved this Tuesday the Maritime Space Management Plans (POEM) after five years of work and a “difficult consensus” between all the ministerial departments with competences in the sea, the coastal autonomous communities, the sectors involved and the civil society. They will be valid for six years (they 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 power with 19 ‘polygons’.
Sources from the Ministry for Ecological Transition explain that 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 offshore wind, which represents 0.5% of the total (compared to 0.7 % of drafts). Specifically, the zones are the following:
– North Atlantic: 2,688.61 square kilometers.
– Strait and Alborán: 1,222.61 square kilometers.
– Canary Islands: 561.87 square kilometers.
– Lenvatino-Balearic Islands: 474.99 square kilometers.
– Sudatlántica: does not contemplate the development of wind farms.
The same sources specify that there is no minimum distance from the coast for the installation of wind turbines, but that this will vary depending on the area. For example, in the North Atlantic, the furthest area identified is 31 kilometers from the shore and the closest, 21 kilometers, while in the Canary Islands there are areas that are 1.85 kilometers away.
[14:14] Nerea de Bilbao YarnozGraphic marine demarcation (Antonio Martos Villar 280223 Marine demarcation – Infogram
The POEMs are thus articulated as a “key instrument” to achieve the objectives of the Roadmap for the development of Offshore Wind and Sea Energies and reach between 1 and 3 gigawatts (GW) of installed power in 2030 “without harm the good state” of the seas, underlined from Ecological Transition. In addition, from the department headed by Teresa Ribera, they highlight that 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 do not affect biodiversity marine and other uses of general interest, such as safety 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.
However, the POEMs are only the first step so that wind turbines can be seen at sea. Now it is time to set the regulatory framework and launch the first capacity auction, which the Government plans to hold within the first half of the year. The POEMs were expected after the summer of last year, but it was not until December 16 that the strategic environmental declaration was published in the Official State Gazette (BOE), a step prior to final approval. Ecological Transition sources assure that in 2021 the cartography was already available, but that they have not received the green light until now to reach the “greatest possible consensus” among the numerous agents that they have used in its preparation.
For the installation of wind farms, the POEM take into account fishing, environmentally protected areas and military strategic areas, among other factors. According to the Wind Business Association (AEE), in Spain, the impact of offshore wind farms on fishing activity will be reduced. One of the reasons that complicate the use of offshore wind power in Spain is that the waters of the continental shelf of the Iberian Peninsula are very deep, which prevents the base from being anchored to the seabed. In the modality with a fixed foundation, the wind turbines are anchored to the seabed and are used for depths of up to 50-60 meters.
However, in floating offshore wind power, they are made up of a platform anchored to the seabed by catenaries or tensioners, which allows expanding the geographical limits of usable marine areas and reaching depths of 1,000 meters, multiplying the potential development areas of the Spanish coasts. . While the rules of the game are being established, the promoters work on the design of projects, which take years to develop, but cannot advance in their processing. Some promoters have already requested the scope of the environmental impact study, a tool that does not imply any commitment on their part or the Administration, although it will facilitate the preparation of the environmental impact study.
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.
Project processing moratorium
Likewise, there is a moratorium for the processing of commercial offshore wind projects, established by Royal Decree-Law 12/2021. Thus, only R+D+i projects are exempt from this moratorium. This moratorium responds to the fact that the POEMs were being finalized and that the procedure for processing this type of project dates back to 2007 and has become outdated.
The POEMs are one of the five transversal lines of the Integrated Marine Policy of the European Union (EU) and respond to the obligations of Directive 2014/89/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council, of July 23, 2014, by establishing a framework for maritime spatial planning. It is the first time that a maritime spatial planning exercise has been carried out in Spain. During this first cycle 2022-2027, various measures are expected to be carried out that, together with the monitoring indicators provided for in the plans, increase new knowledge for the design of the second cycle POEMs.