Projects part of “Ocean: People and Opportunities” initiative
Portugal’s secretary of State for maritime affairs has announced that the government has applied for the reprogramming of funds from the European Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP) for two projects to invest in the economy of the sea, to the tune of €100 million.
Speaking to Lusa news agency at the end of the “Ocean: People and Opportunities” initiative, which marked World Oceans Day in Viana do Castelo on Thursday, José Maria Costa said that “one of the initiatives, with a budget of €50 million, provides for the deepening of studies on the Portuguese coast” related to “knowledge in the field of ocean renewable energy, but also in marine knowledge”.
“It is an important project that will allow Portuguese research centres and institutes to develop and gain greater knowledge of our coast,” he said, revealing that the second project, also with an investment of €50 million, is related to ‘Green Shipping’.
“Basically it is a very important investment in the decarbonisation of maritime transport and in supporting national pilot projects of research centres” to change the use of “fossil fuels for other fuels”.
“It is also a very important signal that we want to give to Portuguese shipowners who make the connections between the mainland and autonomous regions, giving them opportunities to make improvements in transport systems, particularly in fossil fuels.”
José Maria Costa said the government is making “a very strong commitment” to this change “since maritime transport has an important weight in C02 emissions at international level”.
“Portugal wants to give a very important signal that it is aware and wants to reduce these emissions”, he stressed.
Thus, the two initiatives, “among many others, such as an innovation and research project in the Selvagens islands, off Madeira, have now been submitted to the European Commission and should be approved by the end of July”.
At the session held at the Viana do Castelo Sea Centre, located on board the Gil Eannes museum ship, the Atlantic OFFSHORE Wind Energy AOWINDE project, from the Galicia-Northern Portugal Euroregion and funded by the INTERREG programme, was presented.
To Lusa, Maria Campos, in charge of technical innovation of ASIME – the association of metal industries and associated technologies of Galicia, explained that the cooperation project, with a budget of €1.8 million, aims to develop all the necessary studies for physical implementation of an offshore wind farm.
“The intention is to make a pilot project of a virtual wind farm that allows to evaluate the technological, environmental, social and economic impact of a real installation of that infrastructure,” she said.
AOWINDE – which began in January and is scheduled to end in 2025 – aims, in a second phase, to install an offshore wind farm to serve the Euroregion.
The project, which is being developed by a public-private consortium, “aims to analyse the need to improve the competitiveness of the European industry with zero net emissions and to boost the rapid transition to climate neutrality”.
Besides ASIME, the consortium also comprises the Associação dos Industriais Metalúrgicos, Metalomecânicos e Afins de Portugal, the Junta de Galiza, the Instituto Energético de Galiza, the Universities of Vigo and Corunha, the Câmara de Viana do Castelo, the Instituto Politécnico de Viana do Castelo, INESCTEC and CATIM – Centro de Apoio Tecnológico à Indústria Metalomecânica (Metal Mechanical Industry Technological Support Centre).
The session included the presentation of the seven axes that are part of Viana do Castelo’s Action Plan of the Mar 2030 Agenda.
Miguel Marques, from Skipper&Wool, pointed out “the creation of an international technology centre for offshore renewable energies and an integrated platform for sustainable development and acceleration of blue innovation anchored in the maritime port”.
He also mentioned the need to “leverage blue re-industrialisation, through naval construction, repair and conversion, promote the maternity of marine life, through aquaculture and sustainable fishing, create a network of promoters of the economy of the sea”, as the other axes of the action plan identified by a working group that brought together various entities from different areas, from research and development, fishing, boating, tourism, hospitality, among others.
What Lusa’s report has not mentioned is the concern over such a large wind farm of Viana do Castelo raised by fishermen who warn it will spell the death of fishing (and therefore of many livelihoods) if it goes ahead.
Another concern, highlighted by environmentalists, is the nitty gritty behind the intention to “deepen studies of the Portuguese coast” related to “knowledge in the field of ocean renewable energy, but also in marine knowledge”, as they fear this may well power the narrative in favour of deep sea mining. N.D.