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:
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.