Offshore wind could present a “great opportunity to redesign the North Sea”, a new report said
Consultancy group Ecofys’s report, Marine Biodiversity and the Development of a North Sea offshore Powerhouse, claims greater collaboration is needed for North Sea users to unlock a potential boom in offshore wind.
The report said that by keeping to the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement, North Sea offshore wind could grow to almost 180 gigawatts by 2050 – 10 times current capacity.
However, the white paper found that a “clear vision and plan is required” for the implementation of large-scale offshore wind.
It said: “Action is needed now to ensure multiple benefits for stakeholders. At the same time, monitoring and stakeholder collaboration must improve to increase understanding of environmental effects and to accelerate the offshore wind development and spatial planning processes.”
The report also laments the lack of joined-up engagement and collaboration throughout the North Sea energy sector, claiming that engagement occurs mainly “on a national level through government agencies, associations, and local authorities”, which often “excludes” certain stakeholders and non-profit organisations.
The report said: “When asked for their opinion on the level of engagement in North Sea spatial planning (offshore wind in particular), the majority of stakeholders considered that although a high level understanding of stakeholder interests exists, they had not always been adequately engaged.”
“Respondents have high hopes for the NGO fact-finding process; however, most have commented that there has been no follow-up after a first consultation session and the process going forward is not clear. Some stakeholder groups feel left out and believe that more efforts should be made to include all relevant stakeholders in a consultation process.”
The report concludes by reiterating that “monitoring and stakeholder collaboration must improve to increase understanding of environmental effects and to accelerate the offshore wind development” within the North Sea.