To increase the role played by offshore wind energy in mitigating climate change, deployment needs to ramp up across the globe. A new roadmap launched by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and the UN Global Compact aims to achieve that goal.
An increasingly busy marine space is one of the key barriers to increasing offshore wind energy capacity. As such, GWEC and the UN Global Compact are calling for increased collaboration between industry, governments, authorities and the marine spatial planning community to simplify and optimize the planning and implementation processes of renewable energy projects.
The roadmap calls for the following improvements:
The implementation of a climate-smart marine spatial planning (MSP) process. Some 45 countries are either implementing or approving a MSP as of 2021, according to UNESCO
Unlock public and multilateral financing to support countries advancing climate-smart MSP
Improve knowledge and data-sharing on national and international levels
Consider socio-economic considerations in planning decisions
Strengthen the cross-border and transnational collaboration mechanisms on MSP and offshore renewable energy
Ensure a stakeholder process that uses a climate-smart approach to minimize conflicts and maximize synergies between ocean users
Strengthen the links between offshore renewable energy and biodiversity protection and restoration to maximize climate mitigation effects
Explore synergistic multi-use combinations that can speed up the transition to low-carbon and climate-resilient economies
GWEC and the UN Global Compact say the roadmap will help reduce the pressure and degradation of the ecosystem and biodiversity in the marine sector. Prioritizing space for climate-mitigation solutions such as offshore renewable energy will help ensure the sustainability of marine spaces, according to partners.
One carefully planned and sited offshore wind farm has the potential to create 10,000 full-time jobs over the 25-year project lifetime of a 500MW offshore wind farm, states GWEC and it holds great potential to decarbonize the global economy, as well as improve access to energy to disadvantaged communities in coastal areas.
Sturla Henriksen, UN Global Compact Special Advisor, said: “The ocean hosts a wealth of climate solutions – but in order for these to be unleashed, better and science-based based planning will be utterly essential. We cannot solve one problem by causing another. It is essential that mitigation measures like offshore wind do not in turn damage biodiversity.
“A climate-smart MSP can give planners the framework to scale-up climate action while respecting marine habitats, providing ripple effects to local communities, leave room for climate innovation, and future-proof our planet’s largest ecosystem.”
Ben Backwell, CEO GWEC, added: “While the world is searching for solutions to the climate emergency, the ocean holds a magnitude of untapped emissions mitigation potential.
“Offshore wind energy will be vital to achieving large-scale, reliable, and affordable renewable energy in all regions of the world.
“Climate-smart marine spatial planning can guide the growth of offshore wind, unlocking the sector’s potential to decarbonize energy systems while ensuring the biodiversity of ocean and coastal zones can thrive. With this roadmap, the Global Wind Energy Council is looking forward to working with partners such as the UN Global Compact and IOC-UNESCO to support governments around the world in harnessing offshore wind to accelerate sustainable climate action.”
Julian Barbiere, Head for Marine Policy at IOC UNESCO, reiterated: “MSP offers a practical way to create and establish a more rational use of marine space and the interactions among its uses, to balance demands for development with the need to protect the environment, and to deliver social and economic outcomes in an open and planned way.
“IOC has been leading this paradigm change by providing technical support to nations since 2005. As more countries embark on MSP processes globally, mainstreaming climate change issues in national plans, creating incentives for climate smart solutions, and integrating the spatial demand for offshore renewable energies becomes a priority for the ocean to play its full role in climate change mitigation and adaptation.”
Find out more about the roadmap.