Green light for the Strait of Gibraltar wind farm

The Council of Ministers has given the green light this Tuesday to the first plans for the management of Spain's maritime space which, among other issues, delimit the areas in which offshore wind power may be developed, which, as a whole, amount to 5,000 square kilometres, 0.46% of national waters.

One of these areas is off the coasts of the Campo de Gibraltar and Malaga, where the company IberBlue Wind, formed by the Irish Simply Blue Group and the Spanish companies Proes Consultores and FF New Energy Ventures, is planning Nao Victoria, a floating offshore wind farm.

The facility would have an installed capacity of 990 megawatts (MW) and would occupy an area of 310 square kilometres, linking the coastline of both provinces with 55 wind turbines that would evacuate electricity through energy substations in Los Barrios, Castellar, Benahavís and Ventilla.

This project gains momentum thanks to the royal decree approving the Maritime Space Management Plans (POEM) for each of the five Spanish maritime districts (North Atlantic, South Atlantic, Strait and Alboran, Levantine-Balearic and Canary Islands), which will be in force until 2027 and will be reviewed every six years.

This is the first time that Spain, with more than one million square kilometres (km2) of jurisdictional waters and 10,000 kilometres of coastline, has approved POEMs, stressed the Minister for Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera.

This tool seeks to ensure that human activity is carried out in a way that respects ecosystems and the sustainable exploitation of resources, reducing conflicts and promoting coexistence and synergies between activities.

To this end, uses are enabled or limited by zones, taking into account the protection of protected areas, easements linked to maritime transport safety or national defence, added Ribera.

Two zones
In the South Atlantic demarcation (between the Gulf of Cadiz and the meridian that passes through Cape Spartel), the possibility of offshore wind energy installations is not contemplated. Therefore, a wind farm promoted by the company Bahía de la Plata Real State 2017 for the Bay of Cadiz, four kilometres from the beach of La Costilla and six kilometres from La Caleta, is definitively buried. Nor will it be possible to carry out initiatives in Huelva.

Where wind farms may be planned in two areas between the Strait of Gibraltar and Alborán, from Cape Espartel and an imaginary line around Cape Gata, as well as Ceuta, Melilla, Chafarinas, Perejil, Peñones de Vélez de la Gomera and Alhucemas and the island of Alborán. It will be permitted in a territorial area covering 1,222 square kilometres.

The POEM indicates two zones, one on the western coast of Malaga and close to the Campo de Gibraltar and the other in the Alboran Sea, close to the coast of Granada.

The first of these zones includes the project promoted by the company IberWind Blue, which is called Nao Victoria and foresees 55 wind turbines to develop up to 990MW of power. In its initial drafting, it was located opposite the coasts of the Campo de Gibraltar and Malaga.

The company stressed in its presentation that for its start-up it requires "close collaboration" with the nearby ports of the provinces of Cadiz and Malaga, and that its creation "will create thousands of jobs", both in the construction phase and in the operation and maintenance of the wind turbines.

The Spanish government has given permission for a floating maritime wind-farm out at sea off the coast of the Campo near Gibraltar. This has come about in the recent designation covering the use of maritime zones all around the Spanish coast.

While it is not clear whether the approval is for a specific project, what is clear is an area of sea in question has been earmarked for this particular use. The area stretches from the coast off the Campo de Gibraltar in an easterly direction to the coast of Malaga.