The Blue Growth Community is working on the development of renewable marine energy in the Mediterranean region

In Europe, the Mediterranean sea basin shows a great potential for Marine Renewable Energies (MRE) production, testing of technologies in situ and stimulating the MRE business sector, especially SMEs. Besides, the action plan of the EU Green Deal to turn the fight against climate change into a unique growth opportunity constitutes a great opportunity and accelerator for the sector. In this context, Plan Bleu together with the partners of the Mediterranean BLUE GROWTH COMMUNITY project – CONISMA, CPMR, ASCAME, UoM, IrRADIARE & NTUA – organised a two-day capitalisation event dedicated to Marine Renewable Energies (MRE).

The first day (10th November) gathered around 100 stakeholders such as policymakers, research and academia, SMEs, NGOs and international organisations, from 14 countries. Three main issues regarding the MRE development in the Mediterranean region have been addressed: the enabling framework (incl. legal & regulatory), the brakes and levers for the development of the sector in the Mediterranean and how to reconcile Renewable Energy with biodiversity and eco-tourism. Mr. Xavier Guillou from Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (MARE) emphasized on the European Commission’s willingness to strengthen collaboration between Member States on the development of MRE, through the EU Green Deal but also the upcoming Offshore Renewable Energy Strategy (to be published next week). This strategy will lay out how best to exploit and scale-up offshore renewables (generation, distribution, use) to reach climate neutrality by 2050.

The second day (11th November) – which was an E-Blue Agora, co-organized with the Circle the Med Forum– gathered around 500 participants and was dedicated to SMEs with the presentation of tools, funding opportunities and a matchmaking session in the framework of the 1st BLUE DEAL Business Forum.

Here are three key takeaways from this two-day event:

1. Tools to foster the development of Marine Renewable Energies in the Mediterranean region

Mrs. Varvara D. Bougiouri, from the National Technical University of Athens, presented the different tools and methodologies produced within the Blue Growth Community to develop the Marine Renewable Energies sector in the Mediterranean. Among others:

– The first transnational Mediterranean Clusterin Blue Energy created by PELAGOS project

– The Blue Energy Labsthrough which have been developed 20 pilot projects on MRE (MAESTRALE project)

– The 3-PBM Business model for SMEs developed by iBLUE project

– The innovation voucher schemeproduced by 4helix+ project

Crowdfunding and alternative finance services addressing blue economy stakeholders, provided by BLUE CROWDFUNDING project.

What comes next ? The interactive BGC’s Working group on Marine Renewable Energy on the Marina Platform, in which you can share your tools, expertise, and provide your support to develop MRE in the Mediterranean area.

In brief, other interventions highlighted Marine Renewable Energies sector needs:

– mainstreaming into climate change mitigation policies

– acceleration of Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) and Integrated Coastal Zone Management processes promoting holistic management of the ocean space; Strategic Environmental Assessment are a prerequisite for an effective MSP;

– a strengthened collaboration between Member States in terms of knowledge, access, and management of the maritime space;

– to reflect conservation priorities and to avoid ecologically valuable and protected areas.

 

2. Offshore wind and tourism can coexist – take a look at the Baltic Sea example!

Mrs. Ivana Lukic from s.Pro sustainable projects, GmbH, made the case that these two sectors can coexist. Using the concept of ocean multi-use as a framework, several projects have been developed in this region, notably the MUSES projectand the UNITED project. Here are several types of offshore wind farms & tourism multi-use found in these projects:

– Sightseeing boat tours

– Specially designed platforms, serving as resting grounds for seals or including facilities for divers

– Helicopter flights around offshore wind farms

 

 

Combining tourism and offshore can bring benefits such as:

– Mitigation of potential conflict at early-stage and speed up social acceptance

– Improved awareness about the importance of renewable energy

– Additional income for local tourism operators, which can support tourism all year around

Mrs. Lukic stressed that to identify viable opportunities, discussions should start early, involving all interested stakeholders, e.g. offshore wind developers, tourism boards and governmental institutions. An Ocean Multi-Use Action Planwas developed through the MUSES projectand can help all stakeholders interested in developing similar projects to navigate through some of the main challenges such as:

– The question of liability

– Who is to cover the costs of adapting the offshore facilities to the new situation, and how does this relate to the already obtained offshore wind farm permit conditions received from the government.

– Who is to cover the costs of damage to the wind farm infrastructure and increased operational expenses, which were not part of earlier business plans.

 

3. Funding opportunities, actors and initiatives in Blue energy are growing

On the second day, the e-Blue Agora sessions put the spotlight on (a) SMEs acting in the Blue Energy sector, (b) the need for stronger cooperation between Science, Policymakers and SMEs to foster the Blue Energy deployment in the Mediterranean area and (c) the different funding opportunities and financial tools available for SMEs.

From EU funding opportunities to tailored financial solutions such as the Voucher Scheme developed by the project 4Helix+, there are many ways in which SMEs can access funding to develop their Blue Energy products and technologies.

 

Find out more about the Blue Growth Community on our website.

For further questions, please contact us at medbluegrowth@gmail.com.

Contact Plan Bleu : Dr Céline Dubreuil, cdubreuil@planbleu.org

List of documents :

Plan Bleu
Building the Mediterannean’s future together