The Spanish offshore wind industry finds the north

The wind power is going to take off off European shores in a spectacular way in the next years. Currently, the offshore wind farms in Europe add up to 34 gigawatts (GW) of installed power, but the EU has proposed that it be 60 GW in 2030, and 300 GW in 2050. So the business that opens for the industries sector is huge. AND Spain, today, has two great
advantages in this career
: experienced companies and recognized internationally, and an extensive coastline.

With that horizon, the Atlantic Wind Supercluster (SAW). It is made up of the Sea of ​​Innovation Cantabria Cluster (SICC), the Galician Offshore Energy Group, and the Consortium

Technological Institute of Energy of Asturias (AINER). They group, in total, 112 companies. And it is expected that this supercluster will soon be joined by the Basque Country. The idea is to create a great platform for cooperation between companies, technology centers and organizations linked to the industrial development and research of offshore wind power throughout the Cantabrian coast. It is a territory that already stands out for the quantity and quality of industries in this sector, with international recognition, which now wish to multiply their strength and competitiveness in a collaborative way. And all this at a particularly strategic moment, facing the great take-off of offshore wind in Spain and the rest of Europe.

The launch of the Atlantic Wind Supercluster took place on September 24 in Santander, with the active support of the regional governments of Galicia, Asturias and Cantabria.

Business tissue

The president of the Cantabrian SICC, Luis San Segundo, explains that this new platform was born with three main objectives: «to enhance the value chain of the offshore wind industry, the capacities that the business fabric of the Cantabrian Coast has in this field; have a critical mass at all levels of the Spanish Administration, to promote the development of the sector; and coordinate specialized training policies, because there is a lack of specialized professionals and a lot of quality employment will be generated in the coming years ”.

In Spain there is currently a paradox: although
there is no commercial wind turbine park in our seas
, has internationally recognized companies as top-level suppliers
for offshore wind. “We have companies that work in multiple segments of this sector, from shipyards or steel mills, to software companies, logistics companies or construction companies of offshore wind turbines”, explains Luis San Segundo.

There are already thousands of jobs linked to these industrial and innovation activities on the Cantabrian Coast, but “the potential is very great”, highlights the president of the SICC. “It is decisive to strengthen this value chain, to make it known that we have sufficient capacities to undertake offshore wind projects”, he emphasizes.

But that effort of the business fabric must be accompanied by a rapid take-off of the national offshore wind. “We have to do it quickly, because that competitive industrial fabric that we have in this sector must also have a local market to develop,” he warns Thomas Romagosa, technical director of the Spanish wind energy employers’ association, the Asociación Empresarial Eólica (AEE).

Regulatory framework

Until a few years ago, the technology focused on wind turbines anchored to the seabed. They were not very viable for Spain, whose bottom is excessively deep. But the development of floating wind turbines has overcome that stumbling block. The most attractive areas for offshore wind are
the Galician Atlantic front
, the Cantabrian Coast, the Canary Islands and facing the northern coast of Catalonia.

Now, the brake is in the regulatory framework. “Although the Government has promoted renewable energies a lot, offshore wind has been left for last,” explains Romagosa. The Government has yet to approve the Maritime Spatial Planning Plan (POEM), and must update the processing rules of offshore wind farms, which is totally outdated. The EU established that the member countries should have their POEMs ready in March 2021, but “Spain is considerably behind schedule,” laments from the Spanish wind energy employer’s association. “If it takes several years, our industry may be overtaken and displaced by foreign companies,” warns Romagosa.

He emphasizes that «in Spain we have a very powerful industrial network, which comes from the union of the 230 companies that work in onshore wind power and the solid naval industry, the shipyard and port sectors, with ports such as Ferrol, Avilés or Bilbao, which have become logistical nodes for the export of wind power equipment for the North Sea ”.


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