Developing a framework for offshore wind deployment in the Black Sea

Bulgarian Wind Energy Association and WindEurope organized an online discussion on “Developing a framework for offshore wind deployment in the Black Sea” on February 12th, 2021. The event brought together key stakeholders of the Bulgarian public authorities and the European Commission, wind turbine producers, environmentalists, and investors in the wind industry to exchange information and experience on the potential for developing offshore wind energy in the Black Sea.

The participants agreed that the first step towards launching offshore wind projects is preliminary planning, in particular maritime spatial planning. Due to its specifics, offshore wind energy is likely to have a positive impact on the economy, and Bulgaria, like other European countries, should take its advantage for economic development in coastal areas.

Attracting business for the use of marine resources and developing the potential of the Black Sea, while maintaining the balance between economic interests and environmental protection is a policy that should be part of the Maritime Spatial Plan of the Republic of Bulgaria.

At this stage, however, the published document of Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works does not envisage the deployment of offshore wind farms in the Black Sea. The lack of an offshore strategy  is highlighted in other strategic documents for the sector – the National Energy and Climate Plan, as well as in the Strategy for Sustainable Energy Development of the Republic of Bulgaria until 2030 with a horizon to 2050. Investors in wind energy make their investment plans on the basis of long-term signals – the national ambitions for development of the sector and the existence of a stable and predictable market environment.

That is why it is important to include plans for the development of offshore wind energy in the strategic documents as soon as possible. During the online discussion, the topic of funding opportunities for offshore wind projects was also touched upon, with the main focus on National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP).

Giles Dickson, CEO of WindEurope, stressed the need for a stable and predictable regulatory framework. According to Dickson, the Contracts for Difference will be the preferred market model of offshore wind projects in the Black Sea, as they are beneficial to both the state and producers, and the difference is determined by market prices. Denmark, Poland, Ireland, France, Lithuania, the United Kingdom use Contracts of Difference effectively.

The next step towards the development of offshore wind energy in the Black Sea, outlined in the discussion, is ensuring symbiosis with other economic sectors. Repeated use of marine spaces is desirable and technically possible. Communication with environmental groups is also crucial. Giles Dickson cited the signed Memorandum of Understanding and Coalition for the Development of Offshore Wind Energy (offshore coalition) as a good example in this regard. Founded in November 2020, the Coalition brings together NGOs, industry and transmission system operators across Europe for cooperation and sustainable development of offshore wind energy in line with the protection of nature and marine ecosystems.

Last but not least, the possibility of launching an offshore wind project between Bulgaria and Romania under the auspices of the European Cross-Border Mechanism was touched upon. The two neighboring countries could learn the good practices, not only from the offshore coalition, but from the experience of other Member States, which make political commitments to significantly increase the share of offshore wind by 2030 (up to 111 GW determined in their Integrated National Energy and Climate Plans).

More on the topic here.