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Marine renewable energy and maritime spatial planning in Spain: Main challenges and recommendations

Marine Policy - Volume 127, May 2021, 104444


Preliminary studies demonstrate the availability of significant renewable energy potential in Spanish waters. Its use could contribute to achieving the recently updated national objectives for the generation of clean energy in the future National Energy and Climate Plan 2021–2030. Despite the different initiatives that were unsuccessfully proposed at the end of the 2000s, the current implementation of blue energy is practically zero in Spain due to the characteristics of the marine space, which limits the technical and economic viability of the projects. There are other factors, such as a complex regulatory framework, inadequate administrative processes, limited availability of information as well as social rejection of this type of facility. Like other Member States of the European Union, Spain is currently developing a process of maritime spatial planning (MSP) that should be concluded, according to RD 363/2017, with the approval of a maritime spatial plan (POEM) for each of the five existing marine demarcations. This planning will have consequences for the uses and activities of the marine environment, including marine renewable energies. It also provides an opportunity to address existing non-technical barriers and promote the deployment of blue energy facilities. This investigation studies the MSP landscape in Spain from a holistic perspective and analyzes the repercussions of future POEMs in the offshore wind sector and other marine renewable energies. It concludes by proposing a set of recommendations, based on previous experiences in other regions, aimed at facilitating the integration of clean energy policies in the future uses of this marine space.

Application in MSP:
Type of Issue:
Type of practice:
Stage of MSP cycle:
Key words:

Questions this practice may help answer:

  • How can blue energies be deployed in Spain through the MSP process?

Aspects / Objectives:

The aim of this study is to analyse the challenges related to the development of blue energy in Spain and to provide a set of recommendations for the future Spanish MSP (POEM).


The method used to produce this study was to start from a holistic perspective and analyse the repercussions of future POEMs (Spanish MSP) on the offshore wind sector and other marine renewable energies.

Main Outputs / Results:

A set of recommendations is provided based on experiences in other regions. Highlighted points are summarised as follows:

  • "Some MSP related factors hinder marine renewable energies development in Spain.
  • MSP in Spain could contribute to the deployment of blue energy in different ways.
  • POEMs should prioritize MRE objectives with an increased institutional coordination.
  • Better public participation, data availability and simpler permit process are needed.
  • EU experiences could guide achieving Spanish blue energy goals through MSP."


Main conclusions of this study can be used to implement marine energy in other sea regions taking into consideration that this study was specially developed for Spain and its marine specificities.

Responsible Entity:

Research Group of Integrated Coastal Zone Management (GIAL), University of Cadiz, Av. Republica Saharaui S. N., 11510 Puerto Real, Spain

Contact person:

Pablo Quero García (pablo[dot]querogarcia[at]alum[dot]uca[dot]es)


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