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Navigating the Legal Currents of the Emerging Offshore Wind Markets

Offshore wind stands out as a viable alternative to fossil fuels. Bulgaria has significant potential for offshore wind power generation. Harnessing it will help to reduce the country’s energy and climate security risks. The development of the sector requires a transparent and consistent regulatory framework to encourage investors to develop specific projects. Its establishment will be part of the discussions in the National Assembly in the coming weeks.

According to the current, largely conservative projections of national authorities, Poland, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria have the potential to host offshore wind projects with a combined capacity of 15 GW by the end of the decade. In addition, it is projected that they could support the buildout of around 40 GW of capacity by 2050, which still represents a small share of the 300 GW target, included in the EU’s Offshore Renewable Energy Strategy. A number of governance deficits need to be overcome to make these projects happen, including a lack of strategic vision, an unclear regulatory framework, technical barriers related to grid and port infrastructure development, and pervasive myths about the impact of offshore wind on nature and biodiversity that undermine societal continuity.

These are some of the main conclusions of CSD’s latest analysis Winds of change: Offshore Renewable Energy for a More Secure and Resilient Central and Eastern Europe, presented at a roundtable on 24 November 2023 in Sofia. The event gathered representatives of the European Commission and leading politicians and experts in the field of wind energy, including Radoslav Ribarski, Deputy Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Energy, Vasil Stoynov, Policy and Legal Officer, Renewables and Energy System Integration Policy, DG ENER, European Commission, Ivan Pineda, Director for Innovation at WindEurope, Tõnn Tuvikene, Head of the Estonian-Latvian cross-border project ELWIND, Oana-Alexandra Ijdelea, Managing Partner at the Romanian law firm Ijdelea & Associates, and Mihai Constantin, Senior Researcher at the Romanian research institute EPG.

The topic of the discussion was comprehensive draft Law on Renewable Energy Sources in Marine Spaces, which has not yet been adopted. The draft law proposes two approaches for site development, tenders for promising areas and integration of offshore wind deployment areas into the national Marine Spatial Plan. The latter was approved in the spring of 2023 but does not include specific areas for offshore wind energy deployment. At the same time, the European Commission has supported the building of the first demonstration floating offshore wind energy project in the Black Sea. The participants agreed that the offshore wind deployment carries large technical, economic, social, and environmental benefits, making it an attractive investment option for the Central and Eastern Europe region. It can accelerate the decarbonisation of the power sector, improving energy security, and boosting the local economy.