Over the last decade, the accelerated transition towards cleaner means of producing energy has been clearly prioritised by the European Union through large-scale planned deployment of wind farms in the North Sea. From a spatial planning perspective, this has not been a straight-forward process, due to substantial spatial conflicts with the traditional users of the sea, especially with fisheries and protected areas. In this article, we examine the availability of offshore space for wind farm deployment, from a transnational perspective, while taking into account different options for the management of the maritime area through four scenarios. We applied a mixed-method approach, combining expert knowledge and document analysis with the spatial visualisation of existing and future maritime spatial claims. Our calculations clearly indicate a low availability of suitable locations for offshore wind in the proximity of the shore and in shallow waters, even when considering its multi-use with fisheries and protected areas. However, the areas within 100 km from shore and with a water depth above –120 m attract greater opportunities for both single use (only offshore wind farms) and multi-use (mainly with fisheries), from an integrated planning perspective. On the other hand, the decrease of energy targets combined with sectoral planning result in clear limitations to suitable areas for offshore wind farms, indicating the necessity to consider areas with a water depth below –120 m and further than 100 km from shore. Therefore, despite the increased costs of maintenance and design adaptation, the multi-use of space can be a solution for more sustainable, stakeholder-engaged and cost-effective options in the energy deployment process. This paper identifies potential pathways, as well as challenges and opportunities for future offshore space management with the aim of achieving the 2050 renewable energy targets.
Questions this practice may help answer:
What is the impact of offshore activities on future potentials to allocate space for offshore wind energy infrastructure in the North Sea?
The study was conducted in cooperation between the Faculty of Spatial Sciences and the Faculty of Science & Engineering (University of Groningen).
Aspects / Objectives:
The study aims to contribute to the understanding of conflict resolution alternatives for the deployment of renewable energy infrastructure in the North Sea. The research can also be seen through the assessment of the critical locations and cost-effective spatial options for the offshore wind farms, which can support policy development and decision-making.
The authors applied a mixed-method approach, combining the literature review, data analyses and expert interviews.
Main Outputs / Results:
This research identified the impact of offshore activities on future potentials to allocate space for offshore wind energy infrastructure in the North Sea up to 2050.
The methodology used in this research is potentially applicable to similar studies in other marine regions.
Faculty of Spatial Sciences, University of Groningen, 9700 AE Groningen, The Netherlands.
Faculty of Science and Engineering, University of Groningen, 9700 AE Groningen, The Netherlands.
Costs / Funding Source:
This research is part of a project that has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 765515.
Laura Florentina Gusatu: firstname.lastname@example.org
Claudia Yamu: email@example.com
Christian Zuidema: firstname.lastname@example.org
Andre Faaij: email@example.com