Regulatory framework for blue energy

Not even the Balearic archipelago shares with the Canary Islands the situation and forecast for its electrical systems, since its connection by cable with the continent allows them to take advantage of the enormous advantage of the global and European system

OCTAVIO LLINAS The Gran Canarian palms Former president of the Innovamar Foundation

The Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge (MITECO), has convened a prior public consultation (formal procedure in the administrative process to promote new regulatory frameworks), for "the development of offshore wind and sea energy facilities" , a name that remains consistent with the initial concept of technologies in the sea, each of them with a different and separate origin and development, but which at present and in the future must be addressed jointly and comprehensively (how is it about doing in this consultation) and that should give rise to the assumption of the new emerging denomination 'Blue Energy'.

The deadline for consultation is
from June 1 to 21, 2022 (exactly 15 working days), it does not seem too much or proportional to the magnitude and interest of the consulted topic. It is argued that on the subject there is already extensive knowledge and debate that has been generated, materialized to a large extent, as a consequence of the preparation and publication last December 2021 of the 'Roadmap for the development of offshore wind and energies from the sea' and that the regulation is very urgent and necessary, since the authorization procedure foreseen in the
Royal Decree 1028/2007 of July 20, it has been paralyzed for almost a year (June 24, 2021).

Both considerations are absolutely true, but the rush should not exclusively limit the time to promote citizen and institutional participation. It is widely known that the best possible development of these technologies in the corresponding spaces will depend to a large extent on social acceptance, which is not improved or promoted (as it should be), with the limitation of the term or with the image that the limitation itself transmits, when in addition, the term for the preparation of the POEM marine spatial planning plans (March 31, 2001) has been widely exceeded,
no date known for its publication (The latest forecasts that are deduced from the public interventions of ministerial officials estimate that it is "very likely" that they will occur in the last quarter of this year).

In any case, with a better or worse procedure, it must be taken into account that the delay time is already causing damage to important objectives that can be exemplified in
two clear and concrete lines:

= Every megawatt of marine origin that is not produced is being paid at the known and crazy prices of the current wholesale market, maintains the dependence of supply on the volatile market of fossil fuels and worsens the national balance of payments.

= Each Blue Energy project that cannot be processed and launched makes the technological potential and national business capacity (in a position of international leadership) lose relevance in global markets, tend to weaken and consequently reduce the potential of economic growth and employment that derive from these activities in the country.

Despite the relevance of the deadlines, the intrinsic importance of the regulatory framework to improve and facilitate the development of Blue Energy should not be lost sight of, for this reason it is urgent and essential to pay attention to the content and express the criteria and opinion through of this query. The text of the call for public consultation states that the
new regulatory framework will be based on:

= The spatial definition contained in the POEMs -and also, as appropriate, in the port service areas- that minimizes environmental impact and maximizes compatibility with other uses and activities.

= Planning and electrical regulations.

= Coordination of the authorization procedure with the granting of rights over the use of marine space, the prioritization of access and connection to the electrical system and the framework for promoting investment through competitive competition instruments.

Although the statements of the three reference elements are short and clear, they directly and indirectly open enormous consequences for Blue Energy.

For the Canary Islands, it should be possible to resolve how to accommodate the unequivocal reality of its singularity, in order to make the most of the potential of this energy and minimize its costs and impacts.

It should not be necessary to remember, among the unique conditions of the archipelago with respect to those of the rest of the State, that there is only the common administrative framework that tends inexorably (if specific decisions are not taken) to make homogeneous what is not. Not even the Balearic archipelago shares with the Canary Islands the situation and forecast for its electrical systems, since its connection by cable with the continent allows them to take advantage of the enormous advantage of the global and European system (although in recent months it does not seem so), the Canary Islands are and it will continue to be, with no possible solution, a system disconnected from the continent (a potential connection to Europe through the interconnection to the network that can be created in North Africa seems too far away to be considered at this time and in any case should be an additional incentive to achieve energy autonomy in the Archipelago).

It should be included in the analysis, that electricity generation from renewable energies and in particular blue, must not only meet the needs of the current forecasts of its established economic and social system, but also
should be support and encouragement to develop economic and employment opportunities that derive from the substitution of the economy, based on fossil fuels for one based on hydrogen.

If the good sense had already materialized in that the competences on the generation of electricity in the sea were autonomous and were included in the Statute of Autonomy of the Canary Islands (or in any of the specific regulations that have made it possible up to now), the approach of current regulatory development would be substantially different.

Consequently, it is possible on this occasion (as it has been on previous lost occasions), to take the opportunity to prioritize a solution that makes it clear that the reality of the Canary Islands requires having a different solution than those that apply to continental needs (as already has been included in the European framework for the Outermost Regions).

Undoubtedly, and without the need for changes of competence in the proposed regulatory framework, it would be possible (and desirable) to establish a stable mechanism regulated by law that obliges the administrations (state and regional) to work and make joint decisions from their spaces skills, to achieve the best and most specific solution for the development of Blue Energies and the use of its potential for growth and employment in the Canary Islands.

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