Despite an extensive coastline and clear potential for the use of wind energy, the development of the offshore wind sector in Spain is currently in impasse. Environmental, technical, economic, social, and legal factors have all contributed to a failure to bring wind energy projects to fruition in any meaningful way.
The main regulatory obstacles comprise excessively complex sets of procedures, with long deadlines and the involvement of numerous agencies. A lack of coordination between them has been reported to have caused significant delays and spiraling costs in the implementation of Offshore Wind Farm (OWF) projects in several States, which may well have discouraged investment by developers.
This research contains an analysis of the consent procedures necessary to implement OWFs in Spain, and provides a comparative assessment of the systems of authorization used in other European countries with better track records in the development and implementation of offshore wind energy, with the overall aim of proposing regulatory improvements that could make the procedure for developers in Spain more “attractive”, thereby encouraging greater investment in offshore wind.
In the first part of the article, the relevant characteristics of the various authorization procedures established in the domestic law of the leading European countries in terms of the development of offshore wind (the UK, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Germany) are analysed on a scheme-by-scheme basis. The second part contains a discussion of the characteristics of the process of consent used in Spain followed by European Union (EU) recommended measures for improving consent processes for other energy projects (Ocean Energy projects and Projects of Common Interest). Finally, some alternatives are proposed focusing on improving the speed and efficiency of the authorization process used in Spain, taking as a reference the different regulatory systems followed by Comparative Law and EU recommended measures, and ending with a brief analysis of the influence that maritime spatial planning can have on Spanish consent process.
- Concentrating the issuing of all necessary authorizations in a single body through a “single window”, following the Danish system.
- Increasing government intervention, facilitating research and predetermining the capacity and location of the OWF.
- Reducing the delays in decision-making to grant the different authorizations and establishing the possibility of processing different phases of the procedure simultaneously.
- Integrating and coordinating all the different steps and authorizations in a single procedure regulated within a single legal text.