Environmental monitoring of ocean energy devices
Specific Challenge: Ocean energy could provide clean, predictable, indigenous and reliable energy and contribute to the EU's objective of reaching a share of renewables of at least 32% of the EU’s gross final consumption by 2030.
The EU is currently the global leader in ocean energy technologies.
The Commission adopted in 2014 a Communication on Blue Energy, which recognised the immense potential of harnessing the power of our seas and oceans. It is also one of the sectors that were identified in the Commission's Blue Growth Communication as an area where EU action can complement initiatives by the Member States to help this nascent industry develop faster and establish a new industrial sector.
The Ocean Energy Strategic Roadmap “Building Ocean Energy for Europe” published in November 2016 identified de-risking environmental consenting as a key challenge. The development of fit-for-purpose, effective and efficient licensing systems for ocean energy projects across Member States is essential at this stage of development of the sector. This was further confirmed as a priority area for cooperation with member states in the SET Plan Ocean Energy implementation plan adopted by the adopted by SET plan steering committee in March 2018.
Strategic planning is necessary to prevent future conflicts with other sea users and to ensure minimal impact of ocean energy deployment on the marine environment. Early and coordinated environmental assessment procedures under applicable environmental legislations (Directives on Strategic Environmental Assessment Environmental Impact Assessment, Marine Strategy Framework, Habitats, Birds, NATURA 2000 and Maritime Spatial Planning) and the respective national legal rules are fundamental in ensuring compliance and stakeholders' involvement.
Developers’ application for consent requires a sound understanding of environmental assessment and processes applied to ocean energy. However, deployments of ocean energy devices are without precedent and there is limited empirical data that could inform the regulatory process. Obtaining consent for an emerging technology such as ocean energy can be time consuming and costly. This also entails the need for public information, consultation and support. Consenting processes, thus, need to be anticipated, tailored and proportionate.
Close environmental monitoring and impact assessment and an early understanding of these aspects will benefit the current and future deployments of the ocean energy sector as a whole, by putting in place a guiding framework within which to establish protocol for regulatory assessments, licensing, control and monitoring. This will help to steer the transition from research and development to commercial deployment of new technologies.
This is the second call for proposals in this area launched with support of the EMFF.
The general objectives of this call for proposals are:
- To increase the amount of environmental data and improve knowledge on assessing possible impacts of ocean energy devices (wave, tidal and ocean thermal energy conversion) deployed at sea;
- To contribute to reducing uncertainty in modelling potential impacts of future ocean energy devices;
- To provide guidance to ocean energy developers and to public competent authorities in charge of licencing and maritime planning ;
- To inform stakeholders and help feed the public debate
The geographic area covered by the action includes the whole of the EU.
Activities outside of the EU may be included if relevant to achieving the overall and specific objectives of this call.
Projects under this action should achieve concrete outputs within the project duration. The proposal must clearly describe the specific outputs of the project in terms of:
- Improved environmental information on deployments of ocean energy devices at sea condition in test centres or commercial sites;
- Identified and covered gaps in knowledge in the area of consenting and licencing;
- Increased exchange of information on environmental status and possible impacts of ocean energy devices between EU Member States consenting authorities;
- Increased awareness of and education in environmental monitoring, control and maritime spatial planning;
- Increased public awareness, engagement and social acceptance of ocean energy projects;
- Development and integration of publicly available recommendations and tools (for decision makers, developers, stakeholders, etc.), which will be used to improve and streamline processes and reduce duplication of efforts;
- Facilitate the identification and selection of sites as well as future consenting;
- Integration/Updating environmental data platform aligned with relevant existing legislation and initiatives (e.g. EMODnet, Inspire Directive, Marine Strategy Framework Directive, Maritime Spatial Planning, etc.).
A list of relevant indicators (qualitative/quantitative) to measure the expected outputs and impacts of the project must be included in the proposal.
Eligibility and admissibility conditions: described in section 4 and 5 of the call document.
The overarching eligibility conditions are that the applicants must be:
- legal persons - Natural persons are not eligible except self-employed persons or equivalent (i;e. sole traders) where the company does not possess legal personality separate from that of the natural person.
- belong to one of the following categories: private entities, public entities, or international organisations - EU bodies are not eligibile with the exception of the European Commission Joint Research Centre.
- be established in one of the eligible countries, i.e.:
- EU Member States (including overseas countries and territories (OCTs))
- eligible non-EU countries:
- applicants established in non-EU countries are eligible under the condition that their involvement is necessary in view of the nature of the action and in order to achieve its objectives.
- be directly responsible for the preparation and management of the project with the other applicants, i.e. not acting as an intermediary.
For full documents and information see the EMFF webpage here.