New report calls for streamlined, science-based consenting processes for ocean energy
Deploying ocean energy at scale requires simpler, faster consenting processes that are informed by the latest environmental research, according to a new report launched today. To date, there is no evidence that ocean energy has a negative impact on the marine environment – in fact, its role in mitigating climate change is clearly a positive one. Regulatory decision-making should be designed with this in mind, and provide an easier path into the water for these innovative technologies.
Authored by a sectoral advisory body, the European Technology and Innovation Platform for Ocean Energy (ETIP Ocean), the report aims to make the decision-making process more efficient and better informed. It calls for more real-world, long-term data and greater knowledge-sharing across projects, to strengthen the science behind consenting decisions.
The report advocates an ‘Adaptive Management’ approach that responds to new information over time, reducing uncertainty when it comes to environmental impact.
Equipping developers with the right information is also key. Another of the report’s recommendations is a ‘single authority’ – a national contact point, who supports developers in navigating the requirements. Companies could also learn from each another’s consenting experiences via a peer-to-peer platform, suggests the report.
Financial support to help developers take part in environmental programmes above and beyond the legal minimum is another vital aspect of improving the quality and quantity of data available. Many are SMEs and their resources are heavily invested in technology development, leaving little or nothing for additional monitoring programmes.
Felix Leinemann, Head of Unit at the European Commission, who launched the report, said: “As recognised in the European Offshore Renewable Energy Strategy, facilitating access to the sea is a key factor in the development of a competitive European ocean energy sector. This report highlights the need to continue environmental monitoring programmes such as those supported by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, to accelerate ocean energy deployments across Europe.”
Lotta Pirttimaa from Ocean Energy Europe, the report’s author, commented: “As the sector grows, and both projects and machines get bigger, it is more important than ever that the consenting process is both fit-for-purpose and based on real-life observations. It is time for regulators to strike the right balance between diligence and simplicity when it comes to the way these processes are designed and implemented.”