The Ocean of Tomorrow, Investment Assessment of Multi-Use Offshore Platforms: Methodology and Applications - Volume 1

In the near future, the European oceans will be subjected to a massive development of marine infrastructures. The most obvious structures include offshore wind farms, constructions for marine aquaculture and the exploitation of wave energy. The development of these facilities will increase the need for marine infrastructures to support their installation and operation and will unavoidably exert environmental pressures on the oceans and marine ecosystems. It is therefore crucial that the economic costs, the use of marine space and the environmental impacts of these activities remain within acceptable limits. Hence, offshore platforms that combine multiple functions within the same infrastructure offer significant economic and environmental benefits. A key initiative in this context has been the launch of “The Ocean of Tomorrow” FP7 cross-thematic calls aiming at fostering multidisciplinary approaches and cross-fertilisation between various scientific disciplines and economic sectors on key cross-cutting marine and maritime challenges.

The latest book edited by Prof. Phoebe Koundouri, The Ocean of Tomorrow, Investment Assessment of Multi-Use Offshore Platforms: Methodology and Applications - Volume 1, develops and applies an integrated socio-economic assessment of multi-use offshore platforms in European marine locations in the North Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic coast. The book is based on the interdisciplinary research within the MERMAID project (EU-FP7) in developing and applying an Integrated Socio-Economic Assessment of the sustainability of Multi-Use Offshore Platforms, using the results from the natural and engineering sciences as inputs, boundaries and constraints to the socioeconomic analysis. The book, offers insights that result from a multi-disciplinary approach which combines a broad range of expertise in hydraulics, wind engineering, aquaculture, renewable energy, marine environment, project management, socio-economics and governance. The analysis follows views and assessment of world experts from all relevant disciplines from academia, big companies and potential investors that have joined forces in the MERMAID project.

MERMAID project was selected for funding in response to Ocean 2011 on multi-use offshore platforms (FP7-OCEAN.2011-1 “Multi-use offshore platforms"). It had a cost of 7.4 million euro and comprised of 28 partner institutes, including Universities (11), Research institutes (8), Industries (5) and Small and Medium Enterprises (4 SME's), from many regions in the European Union. The project focused on developing concepts for the next generation of offshore platforms which can be used for multiple purposes, including energy extraction, aquaculture and platform related transport. MERMAID designed concepts of Multi-use Offshore Platforms that addressed different physical conditions in order to make the best use of the ocean space. Going from deep water (north of Spain) to shallow water with high morphodynamic activity (north of the Wadden Sea) and further to inner waters like the inner Danish/Baltic areas and the Adriatic sea changes the focus from a strong to low physical control of the environment. That made it possible to develop, assess and integrate different technologies but also to address site specific challenges concerning social, ecological and economic issues.

In end of 2017 the second volume of the Ocean of Tomorrow will follow on the socio-economic framework for assessing multi use off-shore platforms investments.  This framework results from the integration of the socioeconomic analysis of three FP7 funded projects under the call OCEAN.2011-1: Multi-Use Offshore Platforms, namely: MERMAID (Innovative Multi-purpose Off-Shore Platforms: Planning, Design and Operation), TROPOS (Modular Multi-use Deep Water Offshore Platform Harnessing and Servicing Mediterranean, Subtropical and Tropical Marine and Maritime Resources) and H2OCEAN (Development of a Wind-Wave Power Open-Sea Platform Equipped for Hydrogen Generation with Support for Multiple Users of Energy). The identified common ground for assessing off-shore platforms investments includes:  socioeconomic methodology, stakeholder methodology, data gathering and data analysis. The development of a common methodology is important because it will help to deliver consistent results for policy recommendations. This integrated methodology will be useful for the implementation of the Marine Water Framework Directive.

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