Maritime Spatial Planning for offshore wind infrastructure in the North Sea basin


For decades already, The North Sea has been used for various human activities, such as fishery, shipping and tourism, making it a rather busy area. Considering the importance of energy transition in achieving decarbonization in necessary time and the push offshore wind has received to help deliver these goals, additional sea space will have to be dedicated for offshore wind energy as well. To add to the complexity even further, marine ecosystems of the North Sea are in desperate need for nature protection and restoration.

Luckily, a tool made to address these different needs is already available and in usage, however – with its limitations and gaps. The idea behind Maritime Spatial Planning is to analyze, coordinate and allocate sea space for all these activities, and is an obligatory process for all coastal Member States of the European Union. While in theory, MSP should lead to more sustainable usage of the sea, there are a lot of challenges in practice. For example, more often than not, biodiversity targets are not being put on equal footing as other economic and climate goals and cross border collaboration is currently limited. These aspects are crucial to ensure we are reducing our negative impact on environment and climate properly and reaching positive targets comprehensively.

During our Wind Lab activities, we plan to engage with and learn from various types of stakeholders representing main users of the sea, with a goal to produce a set of recommendations to improve Maritime Spatial Planning process. We will build on the work of the Offshore Coalition for Energy and Nature (OCEaN), which is moderated and convened by Renewables Grid Initiative, and expand it further. Wind Lab co-production activities will take different formats, from interactive workshops to high level panel discussions.