Offshore renewable energy impact assessments

Offshore renewable energy impact assessments

On 20 November 2020, Romanian Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Dan-Ştefan Motreanu of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:

“The Commission recently presented plans to scale up offshore wind energy, aiming for a 25-fold boost in wind power at sea as part of EU efforts to phase out fossil fuels in line with the Paris Agreement. The strategy proposes to increase the EU’s offshore wind capacity from its current level of 12 GW to at least 60 GW by 2030 and to 300 GW by 2050.

In this context, some have expressed concerns about the preservation of marine ecosystems and biodiversity.

Does the Commission plan to provide financial support for environmental impact assessments to be carried out as part of the development of wind farms across the EU’s sea basins?”

On 1 February 2021, Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “Achieving climate neutrality and protecting biodiversity are at the core of the European Green Deal. This means that the necessary expansion of renewable energy, as proposed in the Offshore renewable energy strategy, will need to be done in a fully sustainable and responsible way. The development of offshore renewable energy (from wind, wave and tidal in particular) must comply with the EU environmental legislation and the integrated maritime policy. Maritime spatial planning is expected to play a key role in making offshore renewable energy exploitation compatible with biodiversity protection, the good health of marine ecosystems and other uses of the sea. This is also reflected in the EU Biodiversity Strategy, which calls for win-win solutions for energy generation and prioritising solutions such as ocean energy and offshore wind.

Under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive as amended, projects for development of wind farms are subject to determination process set up by Member States to establish if these would have significant effects and therefore be subject to an impact assessment. There is no dedicated EU financial instrument providing support to developers on the environmental impact assessment procedure. Such expenses could be nevertheless eligible as part of funding under cohesion instruments, Connecting Europe Facility or the Recovery and Resilience Facility.”


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