According to all the Commission’s scenarios, to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, Europe will need more than twice as much electricity A quarter of this will be produced offshore which is twenty times more than at present This will be certainly be accompanied by a huge network of transmission cables and probably with infrastructure for generation of hydrogen or cultivation of seafood. Analysis indicates that this will take up a quarter of some Member States’ national waters.
Ecosystems will change, but not necessarily for the worse. For instance, there have been proposals to create refuges for spawning fish or artificial reefs within boundaries of windfarms. However, public acceptance and regulatory approval will require assurances that this is the case and this will need careful observation, before and after deployment.
Much observation is already undertaken in response to EU legislation on habitats, water, fisheries and the marine environment but there is little coordination between the responsible public departments. Sharing information is invaluable for building up a broad picture of what is happening. But the increasing number of observations made for environmental impact assessments rarely reach the public domain; even where there is no commercial advantage in confidentiality.
The objective of the session is to bring private bodies responsible for the offshore renewables industry together with public authorities to begin a conversation on barriers to a more integrated approach to ocean observation and how to overcome them.