Is Marine Spatial Planning Enough to Overcome Biological Data Deficiencies?
The United States only accounts for 0.2% of the global offshore wind installed capacity despite a potential technical resource four orders of magnitude greater. A cumbersome permitting process is one of the challenges in implementing new projects. Part of this process requires biological data in order to inform assessments of environmental impacts; yet these data may be lacking for particular taxa at the required scale. Marine spatial planning (MSP) is a process that often includes data identification, collection, collation and analyses components. In this paper, we conduct a collective case study of three areas with offshore wind projects located in waters managed by marine spatial plans, focusing on how data efforts inform MSP and offshore wind development. Our study finds that MSP can facilitate data efforts during the permitting phase of offshore wind projects, but that other initiatives, particularly renewable energy policies and zoning, appear critical towards establishing offshore wind.
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