Royal Decree 150/2023 approves the Maritime Spatial Plans (“POEM”) of the five Spanish marine demarcations: North Atlantic, South Atlantic, Strait and Alboran, Levantine-Balearic, and Canary Islands. This strategic planning tool will be in force until December 31, 2027, and aims to set out maritime spatial plans to ensure sustainable sea activity and develop maritime sectors.
The POEM are covered in the Roadmap for the development of offshore wind and marine energy in Spain, included in C7.R4 Reform of Component 7 “Deployment and integration of renewable energies” of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan. The POEM identify and analyze the zones that could be used to construct offshore wind energy and marine energy installations, ensuring their compatibility with other current and future uses and activities.
The contents of each POEM include: (i) a section common to all of the marine demarcations, set out in the annex of Royal Decree 150/2023, which specifies the context and scope of application of the plans; the guiding principles and management objectives; maritime spatial planning; and the implementation, assessment and monitoring of the plans; as well as the cartographic representation of the plans’ scope of application and zoning; and (ii) a section specific to each of these five marine demarcations, which is published exclusively on the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge’s website.
As regards maritime spatial plans, the POEM establish: (i) “priority use zones” (known as ZUP), for activities of common interest (such as the protection of biodiversity, national defense, and safety in navigation); and (ii) “high potential areas” (known as ZAP), which give precedence to sectoral activities requiring a specific space and their potential use in the future (including port activity, marine aquaculture and offshore wind energy development).
This second category also encompasses the so-called “areas of high potential for offshore wind energy” (known as ZAPER), as they are highly suitable for the potential deployment of infrastructures for commercial offshore wind energy harvesting, also taking into account that these projects may combine wind energy with other offshore renewable technologies. These areas must satisfy certain technical criteria, such as their proximity and depth, and the suitability of the offshore wind resource. They cannot be located in areas identified as being incompatible, or where the installation of “wind power generators is prohibited (whether bottom-fixed or floating),” according to the criteria established by the Directorate General of Biodiversity, Forests and Desertification of the Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge. Certain planning guidelines have been established regarding their use to facilitate the deployment of offshore wind energy for commercial exploitation, and to guarantee its coexistence with other uses and activities.
Therefore, the approval of the POEM is a first step towards the potential development of offshore wind energy in Spain, with this measure also requiring the approval of a regulatory framework that defines the processing system for this technology.