Building the Blue Economy: The Role of Marine Spatial Planning in Facilitating Offshore Renewable Energy Development

In: The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law
Michaela Young Institute of Marine & Environmental Law, Department of Public Law, University of Cape Town South Africa

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The oceans hold a stunning potential for meeting our ever-growing demand for energy in a sustainable manner by converting energy stored in the form of heat, waves, currents and tides. At present the offshore renewable energy industry remains in its infancy, but given the right conditions, it could grow into a significant contributor to the global energy mix. A number of inter-related barriers, such as resource and user conflicts, regulatory complexity, and a limited understanding of environmental impacts associated with offshore renewable energy technologies, as well as the general challenges surrounding ocean governance, hamper the development of the industry. Marine spatial planning is emerging around the world as a practical tool for promoting a more rational and wise use of the oceans. It could also play a significant role in promoting the speedy and environmentally sound deployment of offshore renewable energy by assisting in overcoming the various hurdles to the development of that sector of the blue economy.

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