Ocean Energy is progressing in Spain with the consolidation of three open sea test sites: bimep and the flagship wave power plant at Mutriku with over 1GWh of cumulative produced power so far in the Basque Country and PLOCAN on the Canary Islands. A couple of wave energy technologies under development by Wedge Global and OCEANTEC and several research projects led by TECNALIA complement the Spanish ocean energy landscape.
SUPPORTING POLICIES FOR OCEAN ENERGY
NATIONAL STRATEGY AND TARGETS
The Spanish Renewable Energy Plan 2011-2020, approved in 2011, included targets for ocean energy (100 MW of installed power by 2020); however these targets seem now difficult to achieve due to the lack of specific supporting policies for ocean energy.
One Spanish region has defined specific strategies and targets for ocean energy: the Basque Government approved also in 2011 its Energy Strategy for 2020, which included a specific initiative to speed up technology and commercial development of wave energy and set a target of 60MW by 2020.
In Spain no dedicated consenting process exists for ocean energy technologies but there are several legal documents affecting ocean energy projects:
In November 2014, the Basque Energy Agency (EVE) launched a tender of a pre-commercial public procurement for the development of a floating wave energy converter suitable for the Basque coast. In November 2015, OCEANTEC, a Spanish company with two shareholders (Iberdrola and TECNALIA) was awarded by EVE to supply its technology based on a floating oscillating water column concept. This €2.5 million contract will allow OCEANTEC moving forward into a TRL7 stage after testing, during one year, of a low power prototype connected to the grid at bimep.
PUBLIC FUNDING PROGRAMMES
There are several public funding programmes in Spain for research and technology development no specific for ocean energy but applicable for ocean energy in competition with other sectors. However there are a couple of programmes more specific for ocean energy:
MARINE SPATIAL PLANNING POLICY
There is no a specific Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) policy in Spain. Pre-selected areas for ocean energy development have not been defined. Site selection is carried out on a case by case basis. In the Basque Country, in the case of bimep, a MSP approach has been used for selecting the site.
PERMITTING AND LICENSING PROCESS FOR OCEAN ENERGY PROJECTS
The total time needed to obtain approval of an ocean energy project in Spain is approximately two years but this timeframe can vary depending whether an Environmental Impact Assessment is required or not. The new environmental law in Spain aims to reduce the time scale needed for obtaining the Environmental Authorisation, establishing a time period of no more than 4 months, or 6 months if there are justified reasons, thus reducing significantly the time needed for this consenting process.
Spain, with the participation of AZTI-Tecnalia, is working with other European countries on the RICORE project (Risk Based Consenting for Offshore Renewables). The aim of this project is to establish a risk-based approach to consenting where the level of survey requirement is based on the environmental sensitivity of the site, the risk profile of the technology and the scale of the proposed project. The project, which has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, will run between 1 January 2015 and 30 June 2016
The Biscay Marine Energy Platform (bimep), an open sea test facility promoted by EVE and IDAE (Institute for Energy Diversification and Saving) in the Basque Country, was officially inaugurated in July 2015 and is now working with the first users who will shortly install several trial devices. An innovative public procurement was tendered by bimep in November 2015 to develop and install a submarine hub for electrical connection.
After the start-up of bimep, EVE is giving Mutriku's wave power plant a new use as test site, which is compatible with the main activity of the plant, that is, to generate electricity from wave energy.
PLOCAN offers a marine test site for marine energy converters. The submarine electrical infrastructure is still in the design stage. It will be ready during the first trimester of 2017 offering the required grid connection. The initial capacity is set at 15 MW with a future extension planned up to 50 MW by 2020. The PLOCAN test site was authorized by the Cabinet of Ministers in March 2014 including a marine area of 23 km2 from the coast to 600 m depth.