How are maritime affairs and energy intertwined?
The seas and oceans are essential for our future on planet Earth. They regulate its carbon and heat cycles and deliver resources such as food that contribute to our diets and provide livelihoods for coastal communities. The OECD estimates that the ocean economy will double by 2030.
This is partly because the seas and oceans will play a vital role in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and limiting global catastrophes. Looking at the level of ambition expressed in the European Commission’s 2050 Clean Planet Strategy (COM (2018) 773 – A Clean Planet for all – A European strategic long-term vision for a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate neutral economy), it is quite clear that reaching the climate neutrality goal will require a quarter of all Europe’s electricity to be generated offshore with twenty times more offshore wind turbines in our seas than there are today. Energy from tides and waves will complement this with an energy supply that is more regular and more predictable then that provided from wind or sun.
This will totally transform Europe’s seas with significant proportion of national waters – up to 20 percent for some countries – dedicated to renewable energy production. This is not business as usual. A new vision is needed to accommodate this massive expansion of renewable energy while taking into account other ocean users and maintaining or recovering biodiverse ecosystems. This will be a major challenge for the maritime spatial plans that EU countries are preparing for 2021.