The nascent status of the Marine Renewable Energy (MRE) sector, particularly ocean wave energy (WE), yields many unknowns about its potential environmental pressures and impacts. As such, it can be perceived as risky by regulators and other stakeholders, sometimes also leading to opposition within intended communities and creating a critical obstacle in the consenting of ocean WE projects.
The aim of the SafeWAVE project consists of overcoming these non-technological barriers that could hinder the future development of one of the main pillars of the EU Blue Growth strategy.
These non-technological barriers are being addressed by the WESE project (http://www.wese-project.eu/) funded by EMFF in 2018. SafeWAVE builds on the results of the WESE project and aims to make further progress by focusing on the following specific objectives:
- 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, expanding the analysis to cover other types of sites, technologies and countries. This will increase information robustness to better inform decision-makers and managers about real environmental risks, broad engagement with relevant stakeholders, related sectors and the public at large and reduce environmental uncertainties in consenting of WE deployments across Europe;
- Development of a Planning and Consenting 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 tool developed for Spain and Portugal in the framework of the WESE project. The output from this will be in the form of a guidance document for ocean energy developers and public authorities for most of the EU countries in the Atlantic Arc.
- Development of a Public Education and Engagement Strategy to assist in working 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.