Supporting Policies for Ocean Energy


National Strategy for the Sea 2021-2030
The Ministry of the Sea, created by the Portuguese Government in 2015, is responsible for the coordination of maritime affairs, the promotion of a sustainable ocean economy, and the creation and monitoring of ocean policies based on scientific knowledge, innovation and technological development. They are also responsible for the licensing of all activities in the sea, including ocean energy projects, by issuing the title for the private use of the maritime space. During 2020, the National Strategy for the Sea 2021-2030, was in public consultation until November. It is foreseen that Portugal will continue its transition in order to achieve the national objectives of the Portuguese Roadmap for Carbon Neutrality 2050, first in the lowest cost-effective sectors and technologies, and then progressively in more expensive sectors and technologies until the desired emission reductions are achieved.

Regarding ocean energies, the goals are supported by Portugal's Industrial Strategy for Ocean Renewable Energies (EI-ERO) published in 2017.

Roadmap for Carbon Neutrality 2050 
The Government of Portugal submitted in September 2019 its long-term strategy for low-emission development (LTS) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), highlighting its intention to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Portugal’s LTS titled ‘Roadmap for Carbon Neutrality 2050 (RCN2050): Long-term Strategy for Carbon Neutrality of the Portuguese Economy by 2050’ elaborates a path to carbon neutrality and identifies guidelines for policies and measures required to achieve this goal. It explains that carbon neutrality is economically and technologically feasible and is based on reducing emissions between 85% and 90% by 2050, compared with 2005.

National energy and climate plan (NECP) for 2021 to 2030
To meet the EU’s energy and climate targets for 2030, EU Member States established a 10-year integrated National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) for the period from 2021 to 2030. In Portugal, it is foreseen that wave energy will reach 70 MW by 2030 and offshore wind power can reach 300 MW in the same period.

Marine Spatial Planning Situation Plan (PSOEM)
The Portuguese MSP Situation Plan (PSOEM) was approved in December 2019 aiming to promote compatibility between competing uses or activities. The Geoportal Maritime Spatial Plan was designed to spatially display existing and potential areas for different uses of the sea, providing a visual perspective of the main Portuguese maritime spatial data (including the environmental data, as well as information on activities, regulations and jurisdictions). This geoportal is now available in English and includes the latest information from PSOEM:

Collaboration with the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan
Portugal, through the Directorate General of Energy and Geology (DGEG), is participating in the OceanSET project, which has the overall goal to support the implementation of the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET Plan) aiming to accelerate the development and deployment of low-carbon technologies. Partners in this project are working together to facilitate the implementation of the technology development actions of the Implementation Plan, promoting knowledge sharing across the European Commission, Member States and other stakeholders in the ocean energy sector, and investigating collaborative funding mechanisms. The Portuguese partner of this project, DGEG, is the public administration body responsible for designing, implementing and evaluating policies on energy and geological resources, in a perspective of sustainable development and security of energy supply.


Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT)

FCT is the national funding agency that supports science, technology and innovation in all scientific domains. In November 2020 it was published a call for project grants in all scientific fields, with a maximum funding limit for each project of 250 000 EUR, and maximum duration of 3 years. This call is open until March 2021 for research and technological development projects exploring innovative concepts, for which marine renewable energies can apply.
Sea Policy General Directorate (DGPM) - BLUE FUND
Blue Fund is an innovative public financial instrument, managed by the Ministry of the Sea, which started in 2017 focused on the development of the ocean economy, scientific research and protection of the sea environment. It prioritizes the development of sea biotech start-ups, underwater robotics, innovative shipbuilding, ocean energy, aquaculture technology and innovative solutions for ocean protection, safety, monitoring and surveillance. Six projects for wave energy demonstration and robotic equipment for operations in the sea, have been developed using these funds, led by the following Portuguese institutions and SMEs: WavEC, IST, inanoEnergy (University of Porto), In2sea, Composite Solutions and Abyssal.

OceanACT, Atlantic Lab for Future Technologies  – A new initiative aiming to be a test and demonstration center for future technologies and solutions that require validation in an ocean environment. The Aguçadoura Test Site and Viana do Castelo Demonstration Site, as well as the Atlantic Testing Platform for Maritime Robotics (the TEC4SEA Research Infrastructure) and the oceanographic radar network from the Portuguese Hydrographic Institute are among the candidates to be integrated in the OceanACT. This will enable the attraction of highly innovative projects in the Blue Economy area. This initiative initiated in 2020 is being promoted by the Collaborative Laboratory +Atlantic, Forum Oceano, CEIIA, INESC TEC and WavEC.
Atlantic Strategy Committee (ASC) – Portugal is one of the four EU Member States represented in this committee. The ASC is the governing body of the Atlantic Strategy aiming to ensure the political and operational coordination of the Atlantic Action Plan and provide the framework for its implementation. The revised Atlantic Action Plan 2.0 was communicated by the European Commission on July 2020 with the main objective to unlock the potential of blue economy in the Atlantic area while preserving marine ecosystems and contributing to climate change adaptation and mitigation. One of the four pillars is dedicated to Marine Renewable Energies.
Oceaninvest - An online platform for the promotion of products and services of the Portuguese Blue Economy, to attract potential investments and construct partnerships contributing to the development of the blue economy, aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. More information at:
Bluetech Accelerator
- A Startup Programme inviting startups to bring innovation to the Blue Economy. The first edition of the programme was strategically focused in the Port & Shipping industry and benefits from a partnership with the Luso-American Development Foundation (FLAD).
Portugal Blue - a new initiative for blue economy investments launched in 2020 by the European Investment Fund (EIF) and the Portuguese national promotional institution, Instituição Financeira de Desenvolvimento (IFD), co-financed by the Portuguese Ministry of Sea with resources from Fundo Azul (Blue Fund). The EIF and IFD each contribute €25 million to this joint programme to support Portuguese companies active in the area of blue economy.



Consenting processes

Update: May 2021


The Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) policy is used as a decision-making tool.

The Portuguese MSP was adopted in 2019 and includes zones for ocean energy development. The MSF Directive was transposed into Portuguese law in DL 38/2015 (amended by the DL 139/2015), laying down the basis for the Planning and Management of the National Maritime Space (LBOGEM). It defines the legal framework that allows for the implementation of MSPs in the whole national maritime space, from the baselines until the extended continental shelf (beyond 200 nm). The MSP system consists of a set of instruments developed under two complementary action levels:

  1. Strategic instruments of the planning and management policy, from which the National Strategy for the Ocean 2013-2020 stands out and
  2. Two legally binding (on public and private entities) MSP instruments: PS and Allocation Plan (AP).

A preliminary baseline for the SP has been developed under the POEM, which has therefore established the situation reference for the MSP in the continent subdivision. DGRM is responsible for the coordination of the MSP. The Allocation Plans are submitted to EIA, whereas a SEA is mandatory for the SP. In 2019, the National Maritime Spatial Plan (PSOEM) was approved establishing the licensing regime for private use of the maritime space including marine renewable energies.

The authorities involved in the consenting process are:

• Portuguese Environmental Agency (APA);
• Coordination Committee on Regional Development (CCDR);
• Energy and Geology Directorate-General (DGEG);
• Portuguese Electricity Utility (EDP);
• Directorate General for Natural Resources, Safety and Maritime Services (DGRM)

The licensing process of marine renewable energies projects in Portugal requires the following components articulated between each other:

  • License for water resources utilization – managed by the Portuguese Environmental Agency (APA). This license is the main consent required and can be authorized through a license or concession:
    • A license is required for devices deployed for less than one year and for installed capacity below or equal to 25 MW;
    • A concession is mandatory for more lengthy time periods. In this case, a competitive public examination must be carried out, starting with a public announcement by the competent authority.
  • Environmental license – managed by the Coordination Committee on Regional Development (CCDR), which is the regional authority;
  • License for the power production or grid connection – a request made by the developer to the Portuguese Electricity Distribution (EDP);
  • Building license for infrastructure on land (e.g. substation, cable routes) administered by the municipal council of the area where the project is to be installed.

DGEG is the licensing entity for projects with a power capacity of up to 10MW. Above 10MW the member of the Government responsible for the energy sector is the licensing authority. The licensing authority coordinates the entire licensing process, articulating the link with the various authorities involved in the process. It is therefore by the licensing authority that all procedures are developed from the delivery of the application elements to the communication of decisions and delivery of licenses to the developer.

As per the recent amendment of DL 215-B/2012 through DL 76/2019, MRE projects not covered in the RJAIA are subject to an AIncA procedure only if located within Natura 2000 Network. If the project is not subject to an AIA or AIncA, the developer may proceed in the licensing procedure provided favourable advice on the project installation on the proposed location is submitted to the regional authority (CCDR). The entity responsible for the decision on whether an EIA/EIncA is required is the CCDR if it is a license, or APA if it is a concession.

Since the scoping phase is not mandatory, the EIA procedure starts with a screening phase to decide whether the project is subject to an AIA. If an MRE project is listed under Annex II of RJAIA, a full AIA is required, and APA is the licensing authority.  In the case of MRE projects not listed under Annex II of RJAIA, i.e., with a capacity below 50 MW (or below 20 MW when located in sensitive areas) or wind farm projects with less than 20 wind turbines (or less than 10 wind turbines when located in sensitive areas) a case-by-case screening procedure is carried out.

The baseline survey is usually made through desk-based studies although some developers of the few projects that have been installed in Portugal have carried out some baseline studies as required in the declaration of the EIA.

Monitoring is usually part of the EIA declaration issued as part of the environmental license. In Portugal the onerous post-deployment monitoring have been required for some marine renewable energy projects. Evidences should be given in periodic reports that monitoring in being carried out, and its results are usually analyzed by the Portuguese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICNF). Both the issuance of the TUPEM and production license requires a favourable or conditionally favourable Environmental Impact Statement (DIA) and, when required, a favourable or conditionally favourable Decision on the Environmental Compliance of the Detailed project design (DCAPE) or, if applicable, a favourable or conditionally favourable Environmental Appraisal Statement (DIncA).

Whilst there is no over-arching dedicated consenting system for ocean energy, all the required consents have been adapted to better suit wave energy developments. One of the most relevant regulations in the consenting process of Portugal is the recently updated Decree Law 76/2019 , which sets the legal regime applicable to the exercise of electricity production, transport, distribution and marketing activities and the organisation of electricity markets. Project developers must obtain the following six consents before installing a project: i) concession, license or authorisation for the private use of marine space (TUPEM ); ii) Reserve capacity; iii) Production license; iv) Exploration license; v) accessory facilities onshore and vi) Environmental Impact Assessment. A developer can apply for all licenses at the same time, however, the procedure to obtain each of these licenses is sequential and there are legally prescribed time frames for each step of the procedure.

For projects with a power capacity up to 10 MW, DGEG is the authority in charge of licensing electricity production linking with other authorities for specific permits: The Directorate General for Natural Resources, Safety and Maritime Services (DGRM) for the TUPEM, CCDRs or APA for the environmental license and local city hall for onshore facilities.
The reserve capacity is a title issued by the grid operator (EDP Distribuição), with the requested power capacity on behalf of the applicant and encompasses a production license and an operation license. Obtaining the capacity reserve title is a necessary but not enough condition of the licensing process. After guaranteeing a reserve capacity in the grid, the applicant must submit the Production License application followed by an Exploration License application, to DGEG.

The procedure to obtain the TUPEM will depend on the designation of the use in the area where the project is to be installed, which is established in the Situation Plan (PS), the instrument setting the baseline for the national MSP. If the area to be used by the project is already designated for renewable energy production, the application for obtaining TUPEM is carried out directly by DGRM. If the area to be used by the project is not designated for MRE production activity, the developer may propose the amendment of its designation by submitting an Allocation Plan, which, if approved, automatically changes the PS through Council Minister´s Resolution.

Consultation is usually required as part of the legal licensing process. It is usually made after the EIS is delivered to the authorities for approval. Advices are asked by the licensing authority to several statutory consultees namely Institute of Nature Conservation, port authorities and several public authorities responsible for marine resources management. There are informal consultation activities implemented by the developers during the licensing process.

Consultation is usually required as part of the legal licensing process. It is usually made after the Environmental Impact Statement is delivered to the authorities for approval.

Advices are asked by the licensing authority to a number of statutory consultees namely the Institute of Nature Conservation, port authorities and a number of public authorities responsible for marine resources management.

There are informal consultation activities implemented during the licensing process: usually, developers prepare a number of informal public events to disseminate the project and collect public feedback on their activities at sea.

Guidance on the consenting process was produced and published by WavEC Offshore Renewables in 2016. It is currently being reviewed and updated.

There are two test sites in Portugal:

  • Aguçadora test site available for technology developers for research and project demonstration (TRL 6 - 8) of floating offshore wind and wave energy conversion devices, offshore aquaculture technologies, underwater robotics and ocean observation. 
  • Viana do Castelo test site available for pré-commercial projects (TRL 8 - 9) of floating offshore wind and wave energy conversion devices.
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