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Preparing for the future innovative offshore economy

Specific challenge: Economic activities in Europe' seas and coasts are expected to intensify, diversify and expand further offshore driven by the competition for space on coastal areas and the increased exploitation of marine (renewable) energy, biological and mineral resources in the deep sea.

The development of large scale activities offshore and in deep sea areas requires overcoming a series of technological and operational challenges related to, among others, surface support facilities, control systems, fluid and solid transport or remotely operated robots/vehicles. Economic considerations are also central in the expansion of the Blue growth sectors. This is why there is a need to assess the most promising and sustainable business models and identify the corresponding technological and environmental challenges to allow these offshore developments to happen. Finally non-technological challenges such as grid connections, conflicts for use of the marine space and licensing in the context of marine spatial planning, must also be taken into account. One way to make use of our seas in a smarter, more sustainable and potentially less disruptive manner is to combine different, complementary and synergistic activities at sea at the same location (e.g. energy production and storage,  fisheries and aquaculture, transport & logistics hubs, observation and monitoring), with multi-use offshore platforms. There is a need to review the work undertaken in this area to assess related business models.

Scope:  Proposals should analyse and identify the social and economic developments in the offshore economy and the most promising, environmentally sustainable and economically feasible business models. This should include a review of marine renewable energy farms (both wind and ocean energy), offshore aquaculture facilities, multi-use offshore platforms projects[1] and their business models, as well as issues of competing access to marine space between different activities and, more broadly, all social and environmental impacts (including impacts on coastal areas). Proposals should also set-up a mechanism associating key stakeholders interested in the development of the Blue Economy, with a view to covering all the following objectives:

  • identify the technological, challenges to be overcome to make these business models operational and define a shared research and technology agenda
  • investigate solutions to overcome the non-technological challenges such as the infrastructure and grid development within the  relevant EU legislative framework ( in particular the maritime spatial planning and existing coastal and planning systems)
  • propose large scale pilot initiative(s) to be launched in European seas which should demonstrate the feasibility of the most promising business models.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of EUR 2 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact:

  • Prepare the ground for demonstration activities of most promising offshore business models;
  • Significantly increase investments by the key European level maritime stakeholders (industrial, scientific communities) in the offshore economy;
  • Support the EU Blue Growth and maritime spatial planning policy objectives.

Type of action: Coordination and support actions