The role of maritime spatial planning on the advance of blue energy in the European Union
In recent years the European Union has firmly committed itself to energy from oceans as a means of decarbonising the European energy system. Despite a favourable political landscape, the development of offshore renewables still faces economic and technological barriers, which are coupled with the inherent difficulties of an increasingly industrialised marine environment, such as complex evolving regulation, lack of knowledge regarding the possible environmental impact of such an activity, as well as spatial conflicts with other traditional and emerging uses. Most of the coastal Member States have adopted Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) as a fundamental tool for integrated and sustainable management of human activities in the marine environment. MSP is capable of definitively driving the use of offshore renewable facilities. Its proper application supports decision making, simplifies and accelerates the process of obtaining permits, improves compatibility of uses, integrates stakeholders in planning, prevents environmental deterioration of sensitive areas, enhances the availability of information and promotes cross-border co-operation. This paper aims to evaluate the influence of maritime spatial planning processes on the advance of blue energy within the framework of the European Union. The results show positive relationships between MSP and the development of offshore renewable energy in countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.