Finally we have suitable areas for offshore wind in spain

It has taken 5 years but finally the Offshore Spatial Planning Plans (POEM) have been approved, defining the high potential areas for the development of offshore wind power. It was a long awaited milestone in the sector as it means the regulatory starting signal for offshore wind in Spain.


The POEMs are the instrument for organizing the different activities in the maritime space, i.e., they must ensure the coexistence of activities as diverse as fishing, military use, protected areas and offshore wind power. It is therefore a complicated puzzle that has taken 5 years to be agreed and published. In this link you can find all the published documents


Zones defined for offshore wind

There are 19 zones totaling 5,000 km2. The final area has suffered a significant reduction compared to the last draft, which was 7,500 km2. The defined zones can be seen in the miteco viewer.




The details of the zones are shown in the table below. As can be seen in the characteristics, the Zones of High Potential for Offshore Wind (ZAPER) meet a series of technical requirements set by the ministry:

  1. The wind resource is higher than 7.5 m/s wind speed, at 100 m height for the four peninsular marine demarcations, and at 140 m height in the Canary Islands zones: 7.5 m/s seems too low to make projects viable, so developers will have to select zones closer to 10 m/s.


  1. The depth does not exceed 1000 m: as expected, taking into account that the minimum depth is 50 m and that the vast majority of areas are around 500 m, the projects will be almost entirely of floating wind turbines. This is going to be a huge technological challenge because to date, the deepest floating offshore wind farm is Hywind Tampen at 300m. Although there are developments that claim to be feasible up to 1000m depth, the truth is that there is no experience beyond 300m. Presumably the first projects to be developed in Spain will be those located at depths below 200m.


  1. If possible, they should be located close to an onshore area with adequate electrical infrastructures for the evacuation of the energy generated. This will be one of the keys to the viability of the projects. If the developer had to take care of the entire electrical infrastructure, the costs would multiply.



The largest area is NOR-2 on the coast of Galicia with 1800 km2 and depths between 200 and 1000m. At the other extreme, we have very small areas in the Canary Islands of 16 and 20 km2 where it will be difficult to see commercial plants and will probably be used for pilot projects of <100 MW.



Potential capacity in the defined ZAPERs

There are many theoretical studies on the potential capacity in offshore areas and the conclusions are varied but there are several clear aspects:

  • A key element is the separation of turbines to avoid the wake effect. The less separation, the more installed capacity, but also more wake losses. As an example, 2 representative cases are named in this article:

o Horns rev with 7D spacing (7 rotor diameters) and wake losses of 12.4%.

o Lillgrund with 3.3D spacing and losses of 23%.



  • Turbine power density, i.e. the ratio of rated power to swept area. Lower power densities optimize the models for sites with lower wind speeds, but at the same time less power is installed on the same area.



If we take as a reference a 9D spacing to minimize losses and models of 15MW power and 235m rotor, we would have about 6 MW/km2 potential, that is, around 30GW.


The reality is that, as we have already mentioned, both wind speed and depth will limit this potential and in these first years, the viable areas will be much less.


Projects underway

According to the excellent article in El Periodico de la Energia, there are already 45 projects submitted with a total capacity of more than 14GW. The promoters are Bluefloat Energy, Sener, Enerocean, Greenalia, Acciona, Iberdrola, Equinor, Naturgy, RWE, Capital Energy, Ferrovial, Grupo Cobra, Iberblue Wind, Esdras Automática, Saitec, Ocean Winds (EDPR and Engie), Grupo Magtel and Abei Energy.


Next steps

As we discussed almost 2 years ago in this blog,  this is the first step of a long regulatory road where the next milestones should be the update of the processing regulation, the design of the auctions and the auction calendar. The graph of the UK offshore regulator seems to me very illustrative of what we have left to see the first offshore farm operating in Spain.


Source: the Crown Estate