About the Project


The Atlantic seaboard offers a vast marine renewable energy (MRE) resource which is still far from being exploited. These resources include offshore wind, wave and tidal. This industrial activity holds considerable potential for enhancing the diversity of energy sources, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and stimulating and diversifying the economies of coastal communities.

the European experience shows that the benefits of clean energy go beyond reduced greenhouse gas emissions and an healthier environment. Clean energy transition boosts the economy and creates jobs. The European Green Deal is also a growth strategy
– Kadri Simson, European Commissioner of Energy, during the Energy Day in the framework of the climate conference (COP25), held in Madrid 2019.

In the same framework of COP25 and during the Oceans Day, the European Commissioner for environment, oceans and fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius explained

fighting climate change and protecting marine life biodiversity is a centrepiece of the EU’s ocean policy. Due to climate change, our oceans are facing serious challenges, which require an urgent and comprehensive response. But oceans are also a part of the solution

Therefore, ocean energy is one of the pillars of the EU’s Blue Growth strategy. Ocean energy could provide clean, predictable, indigenous and reliable energy and contribute to the EU’s objective of reaching a share of renewables of at least 32% of the EU’s gross final consumption by 2030. As it was underlined by Virginijus Sinkevičius, “Marine renewable energy has an incredible potential. The offshore wind sector is growing strongly enough to compete with traditional energy sources. The emerging technologies such as wave and tidal energy will take the same pathway”.

The complexity of MRE licensing processes and operation risk are indicated as one of the main barriers to the sector development. The lack of clarity of procedures (arising from the lack of specific laws for this type of projects), the varied number of authorities to be consulted and the early stage of Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) implementation are examples of the issues identified to delay projects’ permitting. 

Finally, there is also a need to provide more information on the sector not only to regulators, developers and other stakeholders but also to the general public. Information should be provided focusing on the ocean energy sector technical aspects, effects on the marine environment, role on local and regional socio-economic aspects and effects in a global scale as a sector producing clean energy and thus having a role in contributing to decarbonise human activities. Only with an informed society would be possible to carry out fruitful public debates on MRE implementation at the local level. 

These non-technological barriers that could hinder the future development of WE in EU, were addressed by the WESE project (https://wese-project.weebly.com/) funded by EMFF in 2018. The present project builds on the results of the WESE project and aims to move forward through the following specific objectives: 

  1. Development of an Environmental Research Demonstration Strategy based on the collection, processing, modelling, analysis and sharing of environmental data collected in WE sites from different European countries where WECs are currently operating (Mutriku power plant and BIMEP in Spain, Aguçadoura in Portugal and SEMREV in France); the SafeWAVE project aims to enhance the understanding of the negative, positive and negligible effects of WE projects. The SafeWAVE project will continue previous work, carried out under the WESE project, to increase the knowledge on priority research areas, enlarging the analysis to other types of sites, technologies and countries. This will increase information robustness to better inform decision-makers and managers on real environmental risks, broad the engagement with relevant stakeholders, related sectors and the public at large and reduce environmental uncertainties in consenting of WE deployments across Europe; 
  2. Development of a Consenting and Planning Strategy through providing guidance to ocean energy developers and to public authorities tasked with consenting and licensing of WE projects in France and Ireland; this strategy will build on country-specific licensing guidance and on the application of the MSP decision support tools (i.e. WEC-ERA1 by Galparsoro et al., 20212 and VAPEM3 tools) developed for Spain and Portugal in the framework of the WESE project; the results will complete guidance to ocean energy developers and public authorities for most of the EU countries in the Atlantic Arch. 
  3. Development of a Public Education and Engagement Strategy to work collaboratively with coastal communities in France, Ireland, Portugal and Spain, to co-develop and demonstrate a framework for education and public engagement (EPE) of MRE enhancing ocean literacy and improving the quality of public debates. 



The SafeWAVE Consortium, led by AZTI, includes a multidisciplinary team of partners bringing together technology device developers (BIMEP, WELLO, CORPOWER OCEAN and Geps Techno), consultants and researchers (WavEC, CTN, AZTI, RTSYS, UCC and ECN) and data managers (Hidromod), aiming to involve the wider community of ocean energy key stakeholders from across Portugal, Spain, France and Ireland.

Work Packages

Lead Partner: AZTI

The objectives of WP1 are to ensure:

  1. the coordination among the partners;
  2. the project is completed on time;
  3. the project aims are achieved;
  4. deliverables and milestones are delivered in due time;
  5. the project is managed according to budget planning;
  6. excellence and equality are maintained throughout the duration of the project;
  7. fluent communication with the European Commission and the project officer;
  8. stakeholders, including the European Commission, are informed fully about the progress of the project, its outcomes and impacts.

Lead Partner: WavEC

This work package gives continuity to the work performed under project WESE (EASME/EMFF/2017/ broadening environmental monitoring and assessment to other types of devices and sites, enhancing and consolidating knowledge on WE effects.

Knowledge consolidation on WE effects as well as monitoring needs and planning standardisation are important aspects for streamlining environmental impacts assessment and licensing. Therefore, the main goal of this work package is to collect, process, analyse and share environmental data collected in sites where devices are operating in Spanish, Portuguese and French coastal waters, representing different types of technology, different types of locations, i.e. onshore, nearshore and offshore and different type of project scales – single devices versus arrays of devices.

Four different types of technology are going to be assessed:

  1. Laminaria to be installed in Biscay Marine Energy Platform, in BIMEP;
  2. WAVEGEM in SEMREV, in France;
  3. CorPower Ocean technology to be installed in Aguçadoura, in Portugal;
  4. Mutriku Wave Power Plant in operation in Spain.

This project will focus on four of the priority areas of research identified in the “State of Science Report” on “environmental effects of marine renewable energy development around the world” (Coping et al, 2016). This project is building up on WESE’s work by adding a fourth research area.

  1. Electromagnetic Fields (EMF);
  2. Acoustics (noise);
  3. Seabed integrity;
  4. Monitoring of fish communities.

This report, which at the time of this proposal redaction is being updated, is possibly the most comprehensive and recent compilation on environmental issues related with WE deployments published by the Ocean Energy Systems – Environmental team under the International Energy Agency (OES-IEA), where some partners in the Consortium have a seat as delegates (AZTI and WavEC).

SafeWave aims to improve the knowledge on the potential impacts related to those four research priority areas, to reduce knowledge gaps and to promote licensing efficiency.

This work will be carried out in close collaboration with the authorities in charge of the evaluation and follow up of the monitoring programmes in place for each device, building synergies on logistic, methodological and access to data. This exercise, together with new data collection, will allow the development of general guidelines for the identification and evaluation of impacts, planning of monitoring and evaluation and reporting of monitoring results towards adaptive management of mitigation measures and future monitoring activities.

Lead Partner: CTN

The aim of this WP is to develop strategic research to address gaps in knowledge to improve modelling of potential cumulative pressures and environmental impacts of future WE deployments at larger scale and to develop mitigation measures.

This objective will build on the results obtained in WP2 and could be used as a transfer value when analysing the potential environmental impacts in new deployment sites. Data obtained during fieldwork (WP2) will be the base for the development of models that could be implemented in future deployments for the most critical environmental components: EMF, sound propagation and energy removal over marine dynamics.

This strategic research will be based in a case study approximation. To do this, modelization will be undertaken taking into account BIMEP, Aguaçadoura, SEMREVand Mutriku case studies. This WP will build on the models developed in the framework of the WESE project with the added value of including new and different technologies of WE devices to those already studied in WESE project and consequently increase the sources of data available.

In this task the role of the industrial partners (Laminaria, GEPS Techno and CorPower) will be a key element as they will provide data on the behaviour of their devices (without revealing any industrial secret) during the monitoring to be undertaken in WP2 that will be correlated with the environmental data obtained and thus the basis for the modelization of future arrays and their cumulative impacts.

The developed models will be used to study the best mitigation measures in terms of the characteristics of the array (number of devices, location, etc.) for the key environmental factors to be studied.

Lead Partner: Hidromod

This Work Package aims to improve an existing Data Platform (MARENDATA.EU) that will serve data providers, developers and regulators, including the partners of the project.

The objectives of this WP are to:

  1. Test the use of the Platform with new sets of data;
  2. Develop and test uses cases, particularly those that inform the regulatory process of ocean energy devices;
  3. Address scalability issues of the Platform;
  4. Guarantee survivability of the Platform after project end;
  5. Ultimately, the Data Platform aims to inform the consenting of ocean energy devices’ deployments.

Lead Partner: UCC

The aim of this work package is to provide guidance to ocean energy developers and to public authorities tasked with consenting and licensing of WECs in France and Ireland. It should be noted this WP is building up on work from previous projects and contributing to a complete set of guidelines for ocean energy developers and public authorities in the EU countries located in the Atlantic Arch.

As a new and evolving sectoral activity, many misconceptions and uncertainties exist that can have significant consequences for consenting processes in terms of time taken and requirements to be met. Information and knowledge on environmental interactions, generated from Work Packages 2, 3 and 4 (Monitoring, Modelling and Data Platform, respectively), will help to reduce these uncertainties but this information needs to be incorporated into procedures that will enable the implementation of a more proportionate, effective and efficient consenting process.

An evaluation of these potential risks, together with considerations such as the scale of the proposed development, the application of existing environmental assessment processes under EIA and Habitats Directives, and links to other necessary permits will be conducted to identify how the principles of Adaptive Management could benefit both future deployment planning and consenting as well as specific post-development environmental monitoring programmes.

The Survey Deploy Monitor (SDM) policy in Scotland will be here seen as an example in the EU of a successful Adaptive Management implementation. Industry and other stakeholders’ involvement in this process will help to ensure that it is acceptable to the wider maritime community. A synthesis document on how risk-based consenting can support implementation of Maritime Spatial Planning will also be produced. Subsequently a consenting guidance document, reflecting risk-based approaches, will be developed for utilisation by both decision-makers and developers.

Lead Partner: AZTI

The main objective of this WP is to identify the most suitable areas for the development and deployment of MRE in the French and Irish Atlantic area under comprehensive sitting criteria and the framework of the Maritime Spatial Plans that are being implemented by their respective national competent authorities.

On one hand, the potential conflicts between existing maritime activities and MRE, but also the potential environmental implications of MRE will be considered. The assessment of the implications of MRE development should be used to inform and guide the management strategies and the legislation and policies supporting management actions. Thus, the MRE development suitability maps that will be produced could be used to inform and support the efficient planning of future WE deployments.

The MRE development sitting criteria will consider critical technical, environmental and social factors, and it will rely on the knowledge acquired in the above described WP2, WP3 and WP4. For that purpose, a model will be generated under ecological risk assessment approach, which will also consider the potential wave energy resource, operational risks, MRE and other maritime activities conflict risks and social risks. The model structure and the outcomes of its implementation will be presented to and validated by stakeholders (WP7). Stakeholders’ feedback will be considered in the adaptation of the model and suitability maps reliability improvement. Finally, the model will be used for the generation of MRE development suitability maps for the French and Irish Atlantic area.

Lead Partner: UCC

SafeWAVE is very aware of the importance of good relationships with local communities and the need to develop good two-way communication with stakeholders to facilitate the successful scaling of ocean energy device deployments. SafeWAVE will work collaboratively with coastal communities in France, Ireland, Portugal and Spain, to co-develop and demonstrate a framework for education and public engagement (EPE), specifically aimed at ocean literacy. This EPE framework will aim to go beyond social acceptance, which is often equated to acquiescence to a fait accompli, and be designed to contribute to development of projects which exhibit inherent social acceptability.

This work will be informed by five core dimensions of acceptability (personal and interpersonal; structural; political; market; local and community) adapted from social acceptance models of Wüstenhagen et al. (2007) and Devine-Wright (2007). The EPE framework will be developed, with input from the communities, through several methodological steps, including:

  1. assessment of each community, including comprehensive identification and characterisation of stakeholders, including but not limited to various marine users;
  2. in-depth engagement with stakeholders to ascertain their practices, values and attitudes of relevance to the proposed novel technologies (building on methodologies successfully used within the ENTRUST H2020 project led by UCC) – information which can then be fed into the development process;
  3. inclusive workshops offering stakeholders a structured means of inputting into the process (adapting aspects of the community charrettes trialled in the NewTREND H2020 project) and ongoing two-way communication throughout the life of the project, to allow the communities to inform the design of ocean literacy programmes.

The framework will act as a template for specific ocean energy projects to prepare and implement an ocean literacy programme tailored to their particular specificities, which can be used to reach out to, and engage with, local communities, interested stakeholders and the wider public on issues surrounding the deployment of ocean energy devices, including but not limited to: effects on local communities, implications for marine life, potential impacts for water users, etc. Within the SafeWAVE project, the framework will be developed, documented and subsequently trialled and evaluated in the context of collaborating communities in the four countries.

Lead Partner: WavEC

The main objectives of WP8 are:

  1. to disseminate the project objectives, deliverables and outcomes to the offshore renewable energy community and other interested parties.;
  2. to ensure that the impact of the project among the offshore renewable community is maximised;
  3. to implement a project dissemination strategy based on targeted communication that is tailored for the needs of individual partners in their respective countries and which uses appropriate media and communication tools.