Successful development of offshore energy will require strategic planning in relation to incumbent ocean users and activities (i.e., sectors) in order to maximise their respective benefits. Marine ecosystems are finite in size and resource availability, creating the potential for extensive overlap between areas preferred for energy development and those already in use by fisheries, shipping, conservation, and other sectors. Further, operational and market activities by the offshore energy industry can interact with incumbent sectors both biophysically and socioeconomically. Consequently, strategic planning of offshore energy across a seascape is a highly complex problem that cannot be solved without the aid of analytical tools that explicitly account for these factors and interactions when calculating the costs and benefits of alternative spatial plans. Herein, we discuss such a tool—ecosystem service trade-off analysis—and its utility for guiding strategic planning of offshore energy. Ecosystem service trade-off analysis imbeds outputs of coupled biophysical-socioeconomic models of sector interactions into a weighted multi-sector objective function that is used to determine optimal spatial plans that maximise individual-sector values and minimise conflicts to the extent possible. We describe the history of the development of ecosystem service trade-off analysis, and outline its main analytical components and procedural steps. Next, we draw on actual and conceptual case studies and estimate the potential value of using ecosystem trade-off analysis over conventional planning approaches for guiding strategic planning. Finally, we look beyond energy to studies that used ecosystem service trade-off analysis to guide other planning processes, and highlight lessons from those studies that could help guide marine planning of offshore energy.
This is a book chapter in Offshore Energy and Marine Spatial Planning.