Impact of draft national marine spatial strategy on energy industry

Impact of draft national marine spatial strategy on energy industry

(Article by Dr. Maria Ioannou, Senior Associate, published in the Energy & Natural Resources Newsletter of the ILO on June 13, 2022)

On 17 February 2022, a public consultation on the proposed comprehensive marine spatial strategy for Greece was concluded. The aim of the draft strategy is the adoption of a comprehensive marine management policy by 2050, which will enable the structured development of otherwise conflicting marine activities (eg, tourism, offshore renewable energy sources (RES) and fisheries) and respective investments. This will help reduce any anticipated conflicts between marine uses and achieve an enhanced use of marine resources (including the offshore renewable energy potential) and synergy. It will also enhance the protection of the marine environment and biodiversity and therefore improve resilience.
Legal framework
The proposed strategy forms part of the legal framework concerning marine spatial planning, as set out in Law 4546/2018, which transposed Directive 2014/89 and extends to all marine areas, including the continental shelf and the Exclusive Economic Zone. It takes into account already existing instruments such as:

  • communications from the EU Commission on:
    • the potential of using oceanic energy in European seas and oceans; and
    • the potential of offshore renewable energy for a climate neutral future;
  • the 2019 National Energy and Climate Plan, a roadmap that has already integrated offshore wind parks as well as floating photovoltaics (PVs) and wave energy into the 2030 energy mix; and
  • the long-term strategy for 2050.

More concretely, the proposed strategy forms part, together with the onshore spatial strategy, of the comprehensive national spatial strategy delineated in Law 4759/2020. Although the proposed marine spatial strategy is mainly a policy guideline for the designation and use of the marine areas of Greece, some of its provisions may also have a binding (normative) effect.

Potential for RES in marine areas
With regard to the potential for RES in marine areas, the draft strategy proposes the criteria and guidelines for identifying and designating
the most appropriate marine areas for:

  • the imminent development of floating wind turbines;
  • the medium-term development of wave energy and algae biofuel systems, as well as floating PVs;
  • the development of hybrid RES on islands that will not be connected to the national grid and the use of renewable energy to power
    water desalination factories on such islands;
  • laying submarine cables;
  • laying two natural gas pipelines within Greek waters; and
  • oil and gas exploration activities, which are not ex ante banned but will need to take heed of the protection afforded to
    environmentally sensitive areas.

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