We have reached a critical juncture for addressing climate change and must find ways to urgently and dramatically reduce our carbon emissions. Extraction of energy from offshore renewable energy sources is seen as one of the key measures that will enable this reduction. The EU highlights offshore renewable energy as a key enabler for achieving its carbon neutrality ambitions by 2050, as outlined in the EU Green Deal. However, to achieve the EU Green Deal vision, offshore renewable energy capacity in European must increase 30-fold compared to current installed capacity. Several offshore renewable energy extraction technologies are already reaching high levels of maturity, and this need for significant expansion of offshore renewable energy is also driving innovation in less established technologies.
However, in the rush to develop and install new offshore renewable energy devices across the European sea basins, we cannot ignore the potential environmental and societal impacts that they could have. We must take steps to ensure that the expansion of this sector is managed sustainably, responsibly and equitably.
Building on the recommendations made in EMB Vision Document No. 2 on Marine Renewable Energy from 2010, and at a critical juncture for the industry, Future Science Brief No. 9 provides an overview of the current offshore renewable energy technology, and the extent of European deployment to date. It discusses the environmental and socioeconomic considerations that must be considered throughout the lifetime of an offshore renewable energy system. The publication presents the key knowledge, research, and capacity gaps that must be addressed to ensure sustainable delivery of the EU Green Deal objectives. It closes with key policy, research, capacity, and data recommendations to take the sector forward.