Blue energy and marine spatial planning in Southern Europe.


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The 2050 target of the European Union to decarbonize the economy by 80–90% will undoubtedly see marine renewable energies playing a key role. The deployment of offshore facilities within the framework of Blue Growth creates tension as competition for other uses of the sea intensifies as economic exploitation of marine resources increases. Marine spatial planning (MSP) is being applied in different Member States, mainly in the North Sea basin, as a way of easing tensions while promoting blue energy. The southernmost marine areas of the continent also have considerable energy potential that, as yet, has not been exploited due to the limitations imposed by a narrow and steep continental shelf, not to mention legal and administrative barriers. MSP processes currently being developed by the application of Directive 2014/89/EU present an opportunity to resolve these conflicts and promote sustainable use of MRE sources in southern Europe. This paper analyzes the marine spatial planning process of five southern European countries - Spain, Greece, Italy, Malta and Portugal - with the aim of determining the degree to which they are incorporating blue energy policies.

Sea Basin(s): 
May 2020
Application in MSP: 
Unknown effect
Offshore renewable energy production
Type of Issue: 
Coexistence of uses
Type of practice: 
Cross-border / trans-national aspect: 
Coherence with other processes: 
Renewable Energy Directive

Questions this practice may help answer: 

  • To what degree the Mediterranean countries incorporate blue energy policies in their MSP processes?  
  • How can MSP support the development of marine renewable energy? 
  • How to foster marine renewable energy development in Southern Europe?   

Implementation Context: 

The study was conducted in collaboration between the experts from the Research Group on Integrated Coastal Zone Management and the University Research Institute for Sustainable Social Development, the University of Cadiz (Spain). 

Aspects / Objectives: 

The objective of the study was to assess the degree of incorporation of blue energy policies in the maritime spatial planning processes of five Southern European countries. 


The study involved the analysis of the MSP processes in five countries of Southern Europe (namely, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, and Spain). Each process was analysed through seven aspects to highlight the impacts of MSP on marine renewable energy development. A wide range of MSP documents and renewable energy policies was analysed in detail.   

Main Outputs / Results: 

The paper analyzes the marine spatial planning processes of five Mediterranean countries, with the aim to determine the degree to which they are incorporating blue energy policies. It distinguishes MSP as an efficient tool for support of the Blue Energy development, and identifies the main gaps and difficulties for successful development of renewable energy. 


The practice can be applied in any MSP process.

Responsible Entity: 

Research Group on Integrated Coastal Zone Management (GIAL), University of Cadiz, Spain. 

INDESS (University Research Institute for Sustainable Social Development), University of Cadiz, Spain. 

Funding Source: 

The research was partially funded by INDESS - University Research Institute for Sustainable Social Development, University of Cadiz (Spain). 

Contact person: 

P. Quiero García: