The paper explores the current situation, prospects and developmental directions for the floating offshore wind energy sector in Europe, and in particular in the EU Mediterranean Region, with its prime focus on Greece. The intricate and rough seabed morphology, with steep changes in depth, of the Greek seas surrounding the mainland (both the Aegean and the Ionian) constitutes a key difference and distinguishing factor compared to the seabed found in Northern European countries, where most of the offshore wind farms are currently installed. As a result, the available marine areas in Greece suitable for fixed-bottom wind turbines are limited, despite the extremely high wind potential of the Greek seas. The evolution of the floating platform technology for mounting wind turbines can provide a significant boost to the exploitation of the offshore wind potential in Greece, bypassing the difficulties posed by its very complex seabed morphology.
Based on the particularities of the situation and the current lack of a national Maritime Spatial Planning, the paper discusses key strategic issues pertaining to floating offshore wind energy development in Greece and stresses the need for promptly formulating and applying a coherent, effective and efficient institutional and regulatory framework for this sector. The paper outlines in detail the main elements of such a framework, which has two distinct features: i) it is entirely based on existing environmental and spatial-planning legislation, and ii) it employs an “open door” licensing and project development model, at least for an initial phase of 3-5 years, until the aforementioned Maritime Spatial Planning is formulated, deliberated and legislated.
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