Why is there a significant focus on marine renewable energy?
Several years ago, developers interested in pursuing marine renewable energy began seeking permits and licenses for this activity for various areas in Washington’s marine waters and elsewhere in the nation. Stakeholders, agencies and others were concerned that there wasn’t process in place to guide this new use away from areas already highly used by other ocean uses or away from sensitive areas before a permit was issued. While many of these projects ultimately fell through, interest in this new use remains.
In 2010, the Washington State Legislature recognized the need to provide a more predictable and proactive way of addressing marine renewable energy and its potential conflicts by passing a state law that enabled the creation of marine spatial plans in Washington’s waters. While marine spatial plans can address other conflicts, Washington’s state law includes specific requirements to address marine renewable energy. Specifically, the law requires marine spatial plans in Washington to include:
“A framework for coordinating state agency and local government review of proposed renewable energy development uses…” (RCW 43.372.040f)
“A series of maps that, at a minimum, summarize available data on… appropriate locations with high potential for renewable energy production with minimal potential for conflicts with other existing uses or sensitive environments.” (RCW 43.372.040c)