Organised by the Intermediterranean Commission of the CPMR in collaboration with the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region and in the framework of the COM&CAP MarInA-Med project (MED Programme 2007-2013), the “Blue Energies in the Mediterranean Sea” seminar was held in Marseille on 10 December 2014. It gathered more than 80 participants, coming from various levels of organisations such as local and regional authorities, the public and private sectors, universities and research centres, as well as the European Commission, Ocean Energy Europe, and Ocean EraNet. Discussions were mainly based on the on-going research and results of Med Maritime Integrated projects, in order to determine the state of development of Blue Energies in the basin as well as prospects for their further implementation in the future regarding funding, framework conditions (i.e. Maritime Spatial Planning) and best practice exchanges.
As rightly underlined by Christos THEOPHILOU representative of the European Commission, “Blue energies fall perfectly within the Integrated Maritime Policy of the European Union and also in the Blue Growth agenda.” Indeed, apart from benefiting the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, “the blue energy sector could contribute to creating about 10,500-26,500 permanent and 14,000 temporary jobs by 2035.”
In this perspective, the five Med Maritime Integrated projects present, namely BLUENE, ENERCOAST, SMART-PORT, Med-IAMER and CoRINThos, helped map areas of the Mediterranean suited to implementing the several existing types of infrastructures for marine energies (tidal, wind, solar, thermal, etc.), while putting them into perspective with regard to financial resources available to this end as well as political incentives.
Indeed, despite their very immature stage of implementation, it appears that blue energies are well suited to the Mediterranean and can be combined with other sectors for the building of devices (i.e. shipbuilding) or use of the energy produced (i.e. aquaculture, transport activities and ports, among others). Progress is nonetheless still to be made in order to deal with environmental considerations and social acceptance, as well as to increase involvement from investors. The blue energy sector is indeed an expensive and risky one while experiencing infrastructural and administrative limits. Hence the need for European Regional funds, the public and private sectors, and other stakeholders to combine their efforts towards solving these barriers so as to ensure and optimise resources for blue energy development in the Mediterranean.
Bearing this in mind, it is worth mentioning that blue energies are part of the actions for tackling and adapting to Climate Change, an issue of which local and regional authorities are very much aware and for which they are willing to act. The further involvement of member states in this process should allow faster and coherent initiatives to be undertaken, which is a point to be improved in the future.