In the EU, wind power represents one of the most promising tools for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and hence diminishing the consequences of climate change.
According to forecasts for the Mediterranean, offshore wind energy is the most promising future source of renewable power. To date though, the development of the sector in the region is in its infancy: there are currently no OWFs in operation; the first is due to be completed by early 2020 in Italy, while several projects are in a pilot phase in France, and Greece is considering potential development of the sector.
However, while its contribution to climate change mitigation is critical, offshore wind development may have potential negative impacts on the surrounding environment. As in other parts of the world, the projected growth of the OWF sector in the Mediterranean is raising concerns over its potential interactions with Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) – these, by definition, are areas of great importance for marine biodiversity and ecosystems. In recent years, across the Mediterranean, MPAs and other area-based conservation measures have been increasing in number and area covered. As key tools for protecting marine biodiversity and ecosystems, it’s essential that their relation to activities such as OWFs is well defined.
Public authorities involved in the development of the OWF sector should follow the Avoid – Mitigate – Compensate approach, and prioritize the spatial segregation of protected areas and areas designated for OWFs
Potential areas suitable for OWF development, and planned and authorized OWF projects in the Mediterranean Sea