2023 will be the year that offshore wind energy takes off in Spanish waters, or at least that is still the intention of the Government, which does not doubt its effectiveness as a way to produce more energy given the current context, which has economies in check European. Spain’s goal for 2030 is to install between 40 and 60 gigawatts (GW) of marine energy and 1 to 3 GW of floating wind energy, but to date not a single mill has been installed in the continental seas.
The arrival of the wind turbines cannot be carried out until the definitive legislation is approved, which is highly questioned due to the damage it may cause to aquatic ecosystems. In December 2021, the Government paralyzed the implementation of these projects with a Royal Decree, alleging that the legal framework had become obsolete, and updated the regulations based on the ‘Offshore Wind Roadmap’, a document with which established the basic lines for its development in Spain.
In it, it was admitted that its presence in the sea allows a potential “higher in terms of average speed, energy density and regularity than on land”, with future yields between 40% and 50% higher than onshore wind power. For us to see wind turbines on the high seas, the only thing missing is the approval of the maritime spatial planning plans (POEM), the legal instrument used by the Ministry of Ecological Transition to determine what uses are available on the Spanish coasts.
In order to guarantee an orderly use that is compatible with the environment and social demands, the Spanish coastline has been divided into five zones -Noratlántica, Sudatlántica, Estrecho y Alborán, Levantino-Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands-, promoting in each of them different zones that facilitate implantation.
In the environmental declaration published a few weeks ago, some of the probable proposals were eliminated, such as the area in front of Cabo de Gata (Almería), the southern area of Gran Canaria or Sa Mesquida (Balearic Islands) by alleging incompatibilities with tourist uses, fishing or the birds. The final approval will arrive, if everything follows its course, in the coming weeks.
Aid for marine energy pilot projects
A few days before the end of 2022, the first call for aid from the Renmarinas Demos program was published in the BOE, with which the Government intends to promote test platforms and develop new prototypes of marine renewable energy. Framed within the PERTE for Renewable Energies and managed by IDEA, it seeks to position Spain as benchmark funds in new energies.
In total, 240 million euros will be allocated to research and development programs. A good part of them will be allocated to the creation of new infrastructures or expansion of test platforms for research organizations (90 million) and for companies or consortia (60 million), which will be able to validate their prototypes under real conditions in ports or stocks.
The remaining 90 million are divided in half to develop prototypes in other renewable energies beyond offshore wind, such as tidal power -which takes advantage of the tides-, current energy or floating photovoltaic solar, including hybrid projects between these ; as well as joint projects for testing platforms and technology demonstrators for renewables in the same performance and location at sea.
The projects will not be able to start before requesting the aid, which will be requested from January 31 to March 24, and which has incentives for small and medium-sized companies. The projects must be completed before January 15, 2026 and will not harm the environment.