In this study, we define a novel methodological approach for introducing Offshore Wind Energy (OWE) facilities into sea space, determining the most suitable locations with regard to the five clusters: oceanographic potential; environmental sensibility; restrictions related to marine conservation; Land–Sea interactions; and avoiding potential conflict with current maritime and coastal activities.
The methodology was tested along 1.583 km of the Canary Islands coastline and across more than 50 000 km2 of related offshore areas. We have identified marine areas that have significant wind & depth potential, minimal impact on the marine environment, compatibility with marine conservation and conflict avoidance with operative economic maritime and coastal sectors (such as coastal tourism, fisheries, aquaculture, maritime transport, etc.). Suitability maps were developed with Decision Support System INDIMAR, a novel tool that analyses the OWE facilities’ relationship with each cluster parameter, introducing weights calculated by an Analytical Hierarchy Process.
OWE development needs to find a balance of all five clusters reflecting on Ecosystem-Based Management components that should be mirrored in the Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) strategy, including options with tradeoffs among sectorial growth, conflict prevention and environmental protection & conservation.