In Europe, the Mediterranean sea basin shows a great potential for Marine Renewable Energies (MRE) production, testing of technologies in situ and stimulating the MRE business sector, especially SMEs. Besides, the action plan of the EU Green Deal to turn the fight against climate change into a unique growth opportunity constitutes a great opportunity and accelerator for the sector. 


In this context, Plan Bleu together with the rest of partners of the BLUE GROWTH COMMUNITY project – ASCAME, CONISMA, CPMR, IrRADIARE, NTUA & UoM – organised a two-day capitalisation event dedicated to Marine Renewable Energies (MRE).


The first day (10th November) gathered around 100 stakeholders, such as policymakers, research and academia, SMEs, NGOs and international organisations, from 14 countries. Three main issues regarding the MRE development in the Mediterranean region have been addressed: the enabling framework (incl. legal & regulatory), the brakes and levers for the development of the sector in the Mediterranean and how to reconcile Renewable Energy with biodiversity and eco-tourism. Mr. Xavier Guillou from Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (MARE) emphasized on the European Commission's willingness to strengthen collaboration between Member States on the development of MRE, through the EU Green Deal, but also on the upcoming Offshore Renewable Energy Strategy (to be published next week). This strategy will lay out the right way to exploit and scale-up offshore renewables (generation, distribution, use) to reach climate neutrality by 2050.


The second day (11th November) - which was an E-Blue Agora, co-organized with the Circle the Med Forum - gathered around 500 participants and was dedicated to SMEs with the presentation of tools, funding opportunities and a matchmaking session in the framework of the 1st BLUE DEAL Business Forum.

 

 

Here are three key takeaways from this two-day event: 

 

  1. Tools to foster the development of Marine Renewable Energies in the Mediterranean region

Mrs. Varvara D. Bougiouri, from the National Technical University of Athens, presented the different tools and methodologies produced within the Blue Growth Community to develop the Marine Renewable Energies sector in the Mediterranean. Among others:

- The first transnational Mediterranean Cluster in Blue Energy created by PELAGOS project;

- The Blue Energy Labs through which have been developed 20 pilots projects on MRE (MAESTRALE project);

- The 3-PBM Business model for SMEs developed by iBlue project;

- The innovation voucher scheme produced by 4Helix+ project; and

- Crowdfunding and alternative finance services addressing blue economy stakeholders, provided by BLUE CROWDFUNDING project.


What comes next? The interactive BGC’s Working group on Marine Renewable Energy on the Marina Platform, in which you can share your tools, expertise, and provide your support to develop MRE in the Mediterranean area. 

In brief, other interventions to highlight the Marine Renewable Energies sector are:

- Mainstreaming of climate change into mitigation policies;

- Acceleration of Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) and Integrated Coastal Zone Management processes promoting holistic management of the ocean space;

- Strategic Environmental Assessment as a prerequisite for an effective MSP;

- Strengthening of the collaboration between Member States in terms of knowledge, access, and management of the maritime space; and

- Reflecting conservation priorities and avoiding ecologically valuable and marine protected areas.


2. Offshore wind and tourism can coexist - take a look at the Baltic Sea example!

Mrs. Ivana Lukic from s.Pro sustainable projects, GmbH, supported the two sectors’ coexistence. Using the concept of ocean multi-use as a framework, several projects have been developed in this region, notably the MUSES project and the UNITED project. 

Here are several types of offshore wind farms & tourism multi-use found in these projects: 

- Sightseeing boat tours;

- Specially designed platforms, serving as resting grounds for seals or including facilities for divers; and

- Helicopter flights around offshore wind farms.

Combining tourism and offshore can bring benefits such as: 

- Mitigation of potential conflict at early-stage and speed up social acceptance;

- Improved awareness about the importance of renewable energy;

- Additional income for local tourism operators, which can support tourism all year around.


Mrs. Lukic stressed that to identify viable opportunities, discussions should start early, involving all interested stakeholders, e.g. offshore wind developers, tourism boards and governmental institutions. An Ocean Multi-Use Action Plan was developed through the MUSES project and can help all stakeholders interested in developing similar projects to navigate through some of the main challenges such as: 

- The question of liability;

- Who is to cover the costs of adapting the offshore facilities to the new situation, and how does this relate to the already obtained offshore wind farm permit conditions received from the government;

- Who is to cover the costs of damage to the wind farm infrastructure and increased operational expenses, which were not part of earlier business plans.

 

  1. Funding opportunities, actors and initiatives in Blue energy are growing 

On the second day, the e-Blue Agora sessions put the spotlight on (a) SMEs acting in the Blue Energy sector, (b) the need for stronger cooperation between Science, Policymakers and SMEs to foster the Blue Energy deployment in the Mediterranean area and (c) the different funding opportunities and financial tools available for SMEs. 


Among others, the big potential of crowdfunding was presented by Mr. Darko Fercej, from the “BLUE CROWDFUNDING” project, as an alternative funding option for Blue SMEs instead of relying mainly from public funds.  During the last years, this sector grew steadily from scarcely €0.3 billions in 2013 up to €3.37 billions in 2017 (data for Europe except the UK).


Additional tailored financial solutions such as the “innovation voucher scheme” developed by the project “4Helix+” was presented by Mrs. Valentina Bozzi from Svim Srl, as a very powerful tool to introduce scale innovation and engage SMEs with knowledge providers to access innovation support services. Among the awarded Blue SMEs with the “innovation voucher”, there were companies related to blue touristic services and hospitality, maritime transport and seafood production.


These examples illustrate the different means of funding for SMEs to develop their Blue Energy products and technologies.


Here you can check the speakers' presentations.

Find out more about the Blue Growth Community on our website. 

For any further questions, please contact us at  medbluegrowth@remove-this.gmail.com.