The time involved in obtaining consents is of great concern to most developers as it has definite resource and economic implications for project planning.
Ocean energy projects are relatively new to many regulatory bodies and are often considered under legislation developed for other sectors (e.g. oil & gas or aquaculture) which may not be ideally suited to a new technology such as ocean energy. As a way to expedite the consenting process, some countries have attempted to “streamline” their procedures so as to improve their operation.
In the EU, Maritime Spatial Planning and Strategic Environmental Assessment have been identified as tools which can support and inform future consenting of ocean energy projects. Other countries are in the process of developing MSP systems and some have already zoned sea areas for marine renewable energy development.
Likewise dedicated policies, strategies and incentives for renewable energy introduced by respective governments can have a significant impact on progressing industry development.
The proposed task aims to:
The report “Consenting Processes for Ocean Energy on OES Member Countries” published in February 2015 summarises several aspects of the consenting process for ocean energy in the OES member countries, based on a collection of information provided by the Delegates. It is clear from that report that the realisation of ocean energy projects in all the OES member countries continue to face challenges in relation to consenting processes. This can be detrimental to the sector and may also lead to delays in realising operational projects with consequences for budgeting and real costs to developers.
A governance framework that enables the development of the ocean energy sector is still required in most OES member countries. Consenting processes are one element of this framework. These must be considered within much wider management frameworks that are now beginning to include Marine Spatial Planning and risk-based approaches as well as continued environmental protection and increasing need to ensure public acceptance. Whilst uncertainties with respect to environmental effects of ocean energy devices continue to be addressed through research programmes and collaborative efforts, there is a need to ensure that the knowledge generated from this work informs policy development and the future consenting processes to be applied to new and larger ocean energy developments. An annual update of this report will be conducted in 2016, including a review of the following topics in each OES country