Professor Peter Strachan of Aberdeen Business School conducts research into energy policy. He was recently a member of the EU-funded RICORE (Risk-based Consenting for Offshore Renewables) project which developed practical solutions designed to enable the launch of new offshore energy projects.

Offshore windfarmThe RICORE project, which received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, ran between January 2015 and June 2016. The aim was to develop a novel risk-based approach to consenting that would reduce the time and cost involved. This enables regulators and industry to prioritise their activities, based on previous data.

The project profiled Member State consenting processes, explored how risk is addressed in consenting and examined the fit with EU legal requirements. The study found that an absence of an offshore renewable energy (ORE)-specific consenting process, the lack of clear and focused guidance and multiple competent authorities could all act as key barriers to project consenting. To this end, the project sought to build upon existing guidance known as Survey, Deploy and Monitor (SDM) policy to include all relevant technologies in the ORE sector, and to ensure that SDM can be applied within a risk profiling approach. A number of recommendations were put forward, including establishing common criteria for the evaluation of environmental sensitivity at a specific location and updating and reviewing the expected environmental impacts of different technologies.

The impact of the RICORE project is likely to be felt by industry over the long term. The guidelines and policy recommendations put in place will help to nurture a risk-based approach to ORE deployment by both regulators and industry, ensuring the cost efficient delivery of pre-consent surveys that fully meet environmental requirements. In this way, a significant non-technical barrier to the development of this sector – vital to Europe’s green economy – will be removed.