Science Gazette

Offshore wind power in Spain is expected to begin commercial operation in 2023

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The growth of offshore wind power in Spain presents a chance for our economy’s strategic development, generating new jobs and fostering collaborations with other industrial endeavors in our nation. Spain has the infrastructure and value chain to address the growth of offshore wind generation along its shores. In terms of offshore wind technology, Spain sets the standard internationally. It is critical to have an updated legislative framework and detailed medium- and long-term planning in place so that the development of offshore wind farms may begin in the next months and be operational by 2029. The Wind Energy Business Association (AEE), which organizes the Offshore Wind Congress, will have its inaugural conference in Bilbao from November 22 to 23. To progress the critical stepping stones of offshore wind power development in Spain, this event brings together more than 450 specialists in the field. The Basque Energy Cluster, which is co-organizing the event, and the Basque Energy Entity (EVE), which is a partner institution, are both supporting AEE.

Our nation possesses the whole value chain and required infrastructures to address the growth of offshore wind power along our coasts and to set the standard for floating offshore wind technology internationally. Spain is the first country in the world to create prototypes for floating offshore wind energy, and it also has a robust naval industry and port infrastructure with significant potential as logistics hubs. Juan Virgilio Márquez, general director of AEE, stated at the press conference held prior to the start of the Offshore Wind Congress that “the significant number of offshore wind projects submitted for public consultation is yet another example of the interest of developers, the potential dimension of the market, and the positioning of this sector as a motor for industrial development.” We anticipated that the maritime spatial planning plans would already be adopted and that the draft of the regulatory framework would already be in the consultation stage when this inauguration took place. We worry that this delay will impact the date of the first offshore wind auction in our nation, the CEO of AEE emphasized. Márquez continued, “2023 will be the year of genuine take-off for the offshore market in Spain if we join forces among all the parties, public and private.

There is a significant potential for offshore wind power production to support industrial growth and the Spanish economy. Due to the leadership and expertise gained during the more than 20 years of onshore wind power implementation, synergies with other sectors, as well as the experiences Spanish companies have gained abroad in the marine field, Spain has a strong industrial fabric focused on the development of this technology, with a marked export character. In fact, a number of national shipyards have contributed to the building of floating structures for some of the most significant floating offshore wind projects worldwide. The growth of offshore wind benefits the strategic industries it provides synergies with, including shipbuilding and shipyards, auxiliary maritime industry and port management, civil engineering and consultancy, construction industry, metal industry, etc. Offshore wind has emerged as a key market in these industries’ business diversification plans.

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Spain is the second-busiest shipbuilding nation in Europe and tenth-busiest globally. In terms of active shipyards, it ranks third in the European Union, with the majority of its activity concentrated in Galicia, the Canary Islands, Asturias, and the Basque Country. National ports and shipyards may change their function as offshore wind grows, becoming hubs for the building and management of offshore wind power plants. The influence that offshore wind will have on Spain is mentioned in the White Paper on the Offshore Wind Industry, which AEE just released. It states that more than 7,500 employments will be created in Spain between 2025 and 2030, and that number will increase to 17,400 between 2045 and 2050. Starting with the five-year period of 2025–2030, this will include a contribution to GDP of about €2,000 M/year. There are currently 57 GW of installed wind energy systems worldwide. The strength and maturity of this technology may be shown in the fact that in 2021, the global record for offshore wind power installation was broken: 21,222 MW were installed, an increase of 59% from 2020. China, the United Kingdom, Denmark, and Vietnam had the most offshore wind power installed in their country.

The creation of Maritime Space Management Plans (POEM) and a unique legal framework for offshore wind energy with an industrial focus is urgently needed. Parallel to this, a timeline and objectives for offshore wind development must be set up to encourage investment and provide clarity for the industry’s growth in the nation. The general director of AEE emphasizes the importance of maintaining the social agreement and shared responsibilities that are required to allow offshore wind generation and other activities on our coast to coexist. The Offshore Wind Congress being held in Bilbao is particularly relevant for the Basque sector for two reasons, according to José Ignacio Hormaeche, general director of the Basque Country Energy Cluster. This is an acknowledgment of the Basque Country’s strong position in the wind power industry value chain, which includes more than 150 enterprises and a distinctive presence of Basque entities engaged in the development of the floating alternative. Additionally, the Congress serves as a strategic opportunity for the future of our business by signaling the beginning of the development of offshore wind power in Spain.

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Iigo Ansola, general director of the Basque Energy Entity, stated that the Basque Country has a lot to offer to all of this exciting development that marine renewable sources represent because of its strong industrial and R&D infrastructure. Additionally, we have a support line of 2.5 million euros, which is intended to encourage the setup and testing of floating foundation systems for wind turbines as well as the approval of offshore wind turbine prototypes. Over the course of two days, more than 450 participants in the Offshore Wind Congress will examine how this technology may elevate the Spanish industry to a global standard. More than ten nations’ worth of professionals, both domestically and outside. Sara Aagesen, the secretary of state for energy, officially opens the Offshore Wind Congress today alongside Mikel Amundarain, the deputy minister for industry of the Basque government, Luis Rodrguez Llopis, and Juan Diego Daz, the president of AEE.

We will offer the first Offshore Wind Award at the Congress to recognize an initiative, plan, or piece of work that aims to advance offshore wind in Spain. IH Cantabria (Fundación Instituto de Hidráulica de Cantabria), a center of public research with more than 10 years and 40 projects of expertise in the field of marine energy, has received the honor. The jury for this edition, which was comprised of representatives from the major offshore wind companies, praised Spain for promoting the growth of offshore wind in the country and for being one of the industry’s forerunners and global leaders, as well as for its mission and vision, which include fostering scientific excellence and knowledge transfer and offering creative solutions that can. Promoters of future projects, manufacturers, technologists, and companies in the offshore wind value chain in Spain, including Acciona Energa, Capital Energy, Equinor, Grupo Amper, IberBlue Wind, Iberdrola, Naturgy, Navantia Seanergies, Orsted, Ocean Winds, Repsol, RWE, and Watson Farley & Williams as VIP companies, make up the sponsoring companies that work with the Offshore Wind Congress. Acciona, AON, Applus, Arup, BlueFloat Energy, Bureau Veritas, Ditrel, DNV, Ecos Group, Elittoral, EnerOcean, Esteyco, Greenalia, Magellan & Barents, Robert Walters, Roxtec, Saitec Offshore Technologies, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, Tecnoambiente, Typsa, TotalEnergies, and X1 Wind are some of the companies that are collaborating.

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