(Reuters) – Spain’s government on Tuesday approved its first ever delimitations for where wind farms can be developed off the country’s coast, a significant step towards developing the offshore sector.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s cabinet approved a decree that allows for the development of offshore wind parks on 5,000 square km of maritime territory in 19 blocs, Energy Minister Teresa Ribera said at a press conference.
With about 1 million square km of waters, Spain has one of the largest expanses of sea in the European Union and vast potential for harnessing offshore wind.
A region leader in renewable power generation, Spain has however so far trailed its European peers such as Britain, the Netherlands and Denmark in developing offshore wind capacity.
The new delimitations, which were developed following five years of negotiations with other stakeholders in the maritime sector, including regional governments and the powerful fishing and tourism industries, will restrict offshore wind activity to less than 0.5% of its waters but will be reviewed every six years.
Spain has previously laid out plans to develop as much as 3 gigawatts (GW) of installed offshore capacity by 2030.
With the delimitations established, Spain is expected to announce tenders to develop wind farms this year that would be operational by the end of the decade, Joan Groizard, managing director of the state-run Institute for Energy Diversification and Saving told La Vanguardia newspaper.
Groizard said offshore projects in Spain will require floating platforms because of the depth of the sea off Spain’s coast.
Spanish engineering company Ferrovial and renewable energy developer RWE said this month they have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop offshore windfarms.
Ferrovial has said it is interested in developing four offshore windparks with a capacity to generate 1.75 megawatts in Spain’s northwest, northeast Spain and the Canary Islands.
The company said earlier this month it expected the new delimitations to allow for more than 20 GW of offshore capacity.