A crew transfer vessel at an offshore wind farm, aerial view

WindEurope Says Offshore Wind Must Remain Priority as Most EU States Failed to Meet MSP Deadline

Only six EU coastal member states submitted their final Maritime Spatial Plans (MSPs) by 31 March, while 16 countries failed to meet the EU’s deadline. WindEurope said that the 16 member states must submit their MSPs as soon as possible and align them with EU climate goals, allocating enough space for offshore wind.

Ørsted; Illustration (archive)

According to the EU Maritime Spatial Planning Directive, coastal member states were required to submit their Maritime Spatial Plans to the EU Commission by 31 March 2021. Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland, Latvia, and Portugal filed their MSPs on time. The 16 countries that failed to send in their Plans on time are Germany, France, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden, Romania, Bulgaria and Spain.

With offshore wind set to play a central role in helping the EU meet its climate goals and decarbonise its economy, WindEurope has called for the 16 member states to accelerate their work on their MSPs and to submit them as soon as possible, keeping in mind the EU’s offshore wind and climate change goals.

“The way forward is simple: Member States must finalise or adapt, approve and submit their Maritime Spatial Plans as soon as possible. And they must ensure that these Plans are consistent with their respective National Energy and Climate Plans and the EU’s energy and climate objectives. This means allocating enough space for offshore wind and ensuring the electricity grid can accommodate this”, WindEurope stated.

“It also means providing for the happy co-existence of different uses and activities at sea, such as offshore wind and aquaculture, military activities, nature conservation and tourism”, the organisation added.

In November 2020, the EU set a target of 300 GW of installed offshore wind capacity by 2050 through its EU Offshore Renewable Energy Strategy. By 2030, the strategy – part of the EU Green Deal – aims for 60 GW of offshore wind installed in the waters off the coastal Member States.

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The EU Commission then said that it would encourage cross-border cooperation between the member states on long-term planning and deployment, which requires integrating offshore renewable energy development objectives in their national Maritime Spatial Plans.

“The Strategy makes important points on Maritime Spatial Planning and provides an enabling framework for offshore wind farms connected to two or more countries. These so-called ‘hybrid’ offshore wind farms will play an important role. They save money and space and improve energy flows between countries. The enabling framework for them must be implemented as soon as possible. Up to 7 GW of offshore hybrids are already in the pipeline”, WindEurope stated in November 2020 as the new strategy and offshore wind target was announced.