Building synergies in Swedish waters with offshore wind


Offshore wind farm expansion is anticipated in the coming years along the Swedish west coast, in particular in the Skagerrak and Kattegat straits. For example, 50 turbines are expected to be installed by Vattenfall in the Kattegat straights outside Falkenberg/Halmstad by the end of the decade, producing an estimated 3.6 TWh per year. There is often opposition from local residents to introducing offshore wind as a new use which changes the nature of coastal environments, currently valued for their touristic opportunities during the summer holiday season. This can lead to conflicts in local planning and permitting processes, where offshore wind is at times perceived as a threat to tourism offerings.

Meanwhile, there is significant interest in expanding aquaculture in these same areas, in an effort to build a sustainable blue economy for the region. Mussel and algae cultivation for animal and human feed are the focus of several initiatives on the Swedish West Coast, notably centered around Kristineberg Marine Innovation Centre and Marine Fisheries laboratory (SLU Aqua).  However, current permitting processes for aquaculture operations are limited in scope due to knowledge gaps on biological suitability of proposed operational locations.

Promoting the co-existence of offshore wind, aquaculture and tourism may be effective in fostering expansion of these uses in a synergistic way that provide multiple benefits to industries and local residents.

This case study will be paired with the Norwegian case regarding use combinations with aquaculture, and the US case regarding expansion of offshore wind farms. Shared learning across the cases will support scenario development and stakeholder engagement.

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Major challenges to be addressed by this case study include:

How can public opinion in support of offshore wind farms be increased through multi-use combinations?

Are there appropriate designs for combining aquaculture and offshore wind which provide environmental and economic benefits?

How can biological factors for aquaculture planning be incorporated into local permitting processes?

How can greater confidence be built among OWF developers and local permitting authorities for multi-use combinations?

Use combination scenarios for the Swedish Case Study 
The KTH team will work with supporting stakeholders to implement the following scenarios:

Scenario 1

Offshore wind farms and tourism: This scenario will look into opportunities to allow touristic visits (sport fishing) to offshore wind farms in future windfarms and windfarms combined with aquaculture in the Kattegat. By allowing visits to offshore wind farms, it is expected that greater awareness of their economic and environmental benefits can be increased among the general public, leading to support for new developments. New tourism offerings such as sightseeing tours and related spin-off effects from increased activity in the harbor could lead to local job creation, and contribute to the vitality of the area.

Scenario 2

Offshore wind farms and commercial fishing: There is significant interest among the offshore wind and aquaculture industries to explore how extractive aquaculture (seaweed and shellfish) can located within an offshore wind farm, given the right environmental conditions. Offshore wind developers are keen to explore how aquaculture could demonstrate an environmental benefit of OWF, thereby increasing chances of acceptance in permits to local municipalities. Such a combination could lead to benefits to both industries in terms of cost savings and increased space for expansion. An optimal design scenario for an offshore wind farm that is suitable for aquaculture will be created for the waters off of Falkenberg/Halmstad in the Kattegat, where the county council of Halland is currently considering potential for expanding both sectors in their development plans. The site will be evaluated for suitability regarding not only potential use conflicts, but also biological factors. The scenario will also take into account lessons learned and experiences from Gotland Island, where this combination has already been explored as part of the Muses project.

How will this information be used?

Co-development of scenarios with offshore wind developers is intended to inspire them to consider new designs during the pre-planning phase, which may address their concerns regarding public perceptions and permitting acceptance. For the offshore wind & aquaculture combination, researchers from KTH will provide information on appropriate species and types of cultivation so that biological suitability is considered.

Additionally, scenarios will also take into account the perspectives of planning and regulatory authorities at the county (e.g. Halland Council) and national (e.g. Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, Swedish Agency for Water and Marine Management). Particular importance is at the county level, which plays a significant role in marine planning and permitting OWF within the territorial sea boundary. The case study will also be used to inform regional Development Plans for maritime space such as the one being developed for the Council of Västra Götaland so that multi-use combinations can be promoted for expanding blue economies.

Supporting stakeholders

The following institutions have already committed to engage in scenario development, and additional relevant stakeholders will be approached during the project lifetime:

Lead & contact

KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm

  • Fredrik Gröndahl
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