Country Reports

Ocean Energy is progressing in Spain with the consolidation of three open sea test sites: bimep and the flagship wave power plant at Mutriku with over 1GWh of cumulative produced power so far in the Basque Country and PLOCAN on the Canary Islands. A couple of wave energy technologies under development by Wedge Global and OCEANTEC and several research projects led by TECNALIA complement the Spanish ocean energy landscape.



The Spanish Renewable Energy Plan 2011-2020, approved in 2011, included targets for ocean energy (100 MW of installed power by 2020); however these targets seem now difficult to achieve due to the lack of specific supporting policies for ocean energy.

One Spanish region has defined specific strategies and targets for ocean energy: the Basque Government approved also in 2011 its Energy Strategy for 2020, which included a specific initiative to speed up technology and commercial development of wave energy and set a target of 60MW by 2020.

In Spain no dedicated consenting process exists for ocean energy technologies but there are several legal documents affecting ocean energy projects:

  • The Royal Decree 1028/2007 establishes the administrative procedure for processing applications for electricity generating facilities in territorial waters. Although it focuses on offshore wind, it also includes electricity generation from other marine renewable technologies. This Decree foresees a simplified procedure governed by Royal Decree 1955/2000 regulating energy transport, distribution, commercialisation, supply and the authorisation procedure for electrical power plants.
  • Law 2/2013, of 29 May, for protection and sustainable use of coastal amended the previous Coastal Law of 1988. It provides the legal framework for occupation of the territorial sea, as well as governing issues affecting the fishing sector and safety conditions for maritime navigation.
  • Law 21/2013, of 9 December, establishes a simplified process on Environmental Impact Assessment for all marine energy projects.

In November 2014, the Basque Energy Agency (EVE) launched a tender of a pre-commercial public procurement for the development of a floating wave energy converter suitable for the Basque coast. In November 2015, OCEANTEC, a Spanish company with two shareholders (Iberdrola and TECNALIA) was awarded by EVE to supply its technology based on a floating oscillating water column concept. This €2.5 million contract will allow OCEANTEC moving forward into a TRL7 stage after testing, during one year, of a low power prototype connected to the grid at bimep.

There are several public funding programmes in Spain for research and technology development no specific for ocean energy but applicable for ocean energy in competition with other sectors. However there are a couple of programmes more specific for ocean energy:

  • The Spanish Government, through CDTI (the Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology), together with four regional governments (Asturias, Cantabria, Basque Country and the Canary Islands), has joined the European network
    OCEANERA-NET to coordinate funding programmes between European countries and regions to support research and innovation in the ocean energy sector. Three projects have been funded in Spain under the first OCEANERA-NET call and more opportunities will come with the second call expected in 2016.
  • In the Basque Country, a new call to support open sea testing was launched by EVE in 2015. The purpose of this programme is the demonstration and validation of emerging marine renewable energy technologies.


There is no a specific Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) policy in Spain. Pre-selected areas for ocean energy development have not been defined. Site selection is carried out on a case by case basis. In the Basque Country, in the case of bimep, a MSP approach has been used for selecting the site.

The total time needed to obtain approval of an ocean energy project in Spain is approximately two years but this timeframe can vary depending whether an Environmental Impact Assessment is required or not. The new environmental law in Spain aims to reduce the time scale needed for obtaining the Environmental Authorisation, establishing a time period of no more than 4 months, or 6 months if there are justified reasons, thus reducing significantly the time needed for this consenting process. 

Spain, with the participation of AZTI-Tecnalia, is working with other European countries on the RICORE project (Risk Based Consenting for Offshore Renewables). The aim of this project is to establish a risk-based approach to consenting where the level of survey requirement is based on the environmental sensitivity of the site, the risk profile of the technology and the scale of the proposed project. The project, which has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, will run between 1 January 2015 and 30 June 2016

The Biscay Marine Energy Platform (bimep), an open sea test facility promoted by EVE and IDAE (Institute for Energy Diversification and Saving) in the Basque Country, was officially inaugurated in July 2015 and is now working with the first users who will shortly install several trial devices. An innovative public procurement was tendered by bimep in November 2015 to develop and install a submarine hub for electrical connection.

After the start-up of bimep, EVE is giving Mutriku's wave power plant a new use as test site, which is compatible with the main activity of the plant, that is, to generate electricity from wave energy.

PLOCAN offers a marine test site for marine energy converters. The submarine electrical infrastructure is still in the design stage. It will be ready during the first trimester of 2017 offering the required grid connection. The initial capacity is set at 15 MW with a future extension planned up to 50 MW by 2020. The PLOCAN test site was authorized by the Cabinet of Ministers in March 2014 including a marine area of 23 km2 from the coast to 600 m depth.



Within the OCEANERA-NET programme, TECNALIA is leading a consortium with partners from Spain, Portugal Ireland and UK to develop and demonstrate critical components for monitoring, control and electrical connection for ocean energy. Delivering reliable and cost-effective technologies will be paramount to the ultimate commercial success of Europe’s ocean energy industry. The so-called RECODE project aims to give answer to this challenge by developing a set of industryenabling cost-effective components, specifically designed for reliable and sustainable delivery of ocean energy arrays. The project started in October 2015 and will run for three years.

TECNALIA, in collaboration with OCEANTEC, was awarded £87,271 by Wave Energy Scotland under its
first competitive open call for innovative Power Take- Off (PTO) systems for wave energy. The project SEÒLTA (Survivable and Efficient OLeo-hydraulic assisted Power Take-off) aims at producing a step change in the overall performance of PTO systems used for wave energy harvesting. Particularly, this project phase will characterise and assess the feasibility to wave energy of a novel hybrid PTO configuration that is directly inspired on those used in the automotive sector, which have achieved a significant reduction on fuel consumption (in the range of 30-50%).

In November 2015, a consortium led by TECNALIA in partnership with University of Edinburgh, University of Exeter, University College Cork, Instituto Superior Técnico, OCEANTEC, EVE, bimep, Global Maritime, Iberdrola and DNV, signed a contract with the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 programme to develop the project OPERA (Open Sea Operating Experience to Reduce Wave Energy Cost). OPERA will collect and share two years of open sea operating data of a floating oscillating water column wave energy converter. In addition, the project will be the first open sea experience for four cost-reducing innovations that will be advanced from TRL3-4 to TRL5. Together, these four innovations have a long-term cost reduction potential of over 50%. These are: an efficient turbine, latching and predictive control, a shared mooring system for wave energy similar to those that have reduced mooring costs in aquaculture, and an elastomeric mooring tether that reduces peak loads at the hullmooring connection and thus addresses one of the most pressing challenges for structural survivability of wave energy devices. Documenting and sharing this open sea experience will also induce a step-change in the knowledge of risk and uncertainties, costs and societal and environmental impacts of wave energy.

The consortium brings together world leaders in wave energy research, the IPR owners and most advanced teams to exploit each of these innovations.

TECNALIA is also leading the project ICERMAR, funded by the Basque Government, in collaboration with the University of the Basque Country and the Basque Centre for Applied Mathematics to coordinate research efforts in the field of marine renewable energy (ocean energy and offshore wind) and to increase the impact of this research into the local industry.

Abengoa Seapower continues the development of several activities in ocean energy, including R&D projects in wave and tidal energy, engineering for construction of marine energy projects, and the development of different tools mainly focused on grid and performance of marine energy devices.

   Ecoboya's prototoype during sea trials at the mouth of the Guadalquivir river.                     Tank testing campaign of the Undiplat’s 1:20 scale prototype.

Furthermore, Abengoa Seapower’s team has performed a successfully tank testing campaign on a 1:20 scale prototype (TRL 04) of its own wave energy device, Undiplat, based on a multiple oscillating water column (OWC) system. The 1:4 scale prototype (TRL 05) is expected to be tested off the north coast of Spain by the end of 2017 before the development of a full scale prototype.



After 4 years of continuous operation with a cumulative production of over 1GWh, Mutriku Wave Power Plant is now ready to host tests related to new concepts of OWC systems (air turbines, electrical generators and control systems).

Wedge Global is leading UNDIGEN+ project based on the industrial scale W1 device. The W1 system is an axisymmetric resonant point absorber with direct drive (linear generator) Power Take-Off and incorporates ten years of technology development and testing. During 2015, the W1 system has kept on testing under open sea tests in the Atlantic Ocean at PLOCAN site (II Phase) as well as testing at the harbour on the Canary Islands (achieving current non-stop ocean tests since January 2014), with promissory effective generation results. UNDIGEN+ is a project partially funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, led by the Spanish tech-company WEDGE GLOBAL, in collaboration with SAES, CIEMAT and PLOCAN. After the satisfactory completion of the planned tests during 2015, and due to the outstanding performance of the system, additional tests have been planned for 2016 (III Phase).

Wedge Global W1 prototype

The Finnish company WELLO installed the PENGUIN II prototype in September 2015.

The objective of this first experiment is to test the structural reliability of a 6m length and 2,4m width device constructed in Finland and assembled at the Taliarte harbour close to PLOCAN headquarters.

The testing phase will be extended through 2016.


OCEANTEC plans to install a low power prototype of its floating oscillating column water wave energy converter connected to the grid at bimep in mid-2016.

The Magallanes project was launched in 2007 setting out to develop a technology capable of extracting energy from tidal currents. The project is in the final stage of assembly and construction of a real scale prototype, 350 tons of weight. Sea trials are expected in 2016. Following a research and development stage, in 2014 Magallanes built and tested a 1:10 scale model, successfully completing official testing at EMEC in Scotland. The technology is based on a floating structure without requiring constructions or pillars in the marine bottom. The project is based on achieving the most efficient, profitable method possible to obtain tidal energy: a sturdily-built, simple installation, capable of producing in any area in the world, with the easiest maintenance system.


There is no specific Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) policy.

Pre-selected areas for ocean energy development have not been defined. Site selection is carried out on a case-by-case analysis. In the Basque country, in the case of Biscay Marine Energy Platform (BIMEP), a MSP approach was used for selecting the site.

The authorities involved in the consenting process are:

• The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment, through the Coasts Directorate-General – is in charge of the authorizations and concessions regarding the occupation of maritime-terrestrial areas. This ministry will also act as the decision making body for all the environmental aspects;
• The Ministry of Development, through the Merchant Navy Directorate-General – authorizes the precise activities when they affect maritime safety, navigation and human life at sea;
• In case of public ports occupation, the competent port authority shall grant authorization or concession;
• Regional governments can participate in the process depending on their competences. In particular, regional governments (there are 17 in Spain) are the decision-making bodies when the site is in internal sea areas (i.e. sea areas lying between two capes).

The total time needed to obtain approval is approximately two years but this timeframe varies between projects.

For instance, consenting of BIMEP started in July 2008 and ended in 2012 with the concession of marine-terrestrial public domain and the authorization for project execution. In contrast, the consenting of the Mutriku wave power plant took less than two years as it is located onshore and consequently was subject to the consenting process applicable for an ‘ordinary’ renewable energy plant. The reason for such time variability to obtain the final consent is attributed to whether an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is required or not.

The new EIA law in Spain since 2013 aims to reduce the time scale needed for obtaining the Environmental Authorization, establishing a time period of no more than 4 months, or 6 months if there are justified reasons, thus reducing significantly the time needed for this consenting process which was about 3 to 24 months according to the previous law from 2008.

The Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Commerce, through the Energy Policy and Mines Directorate-General, is the decision-making body and it is responsible for granting the administrative authorization. However, in practice, there are more bodies involved in the process and developers need to deal with them.

An EIA is assessed on a case-by-case basis.

According to Law 21/2013, of 9 December, all projects devoted to the production of energy on the marine environment are subject to be evaluated through a simplified environmental impact assessment process. The entity responsible for the decision on whether an EIA is required or not is the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

There are not too many experiences related with EIA baseline and post-monitoring steps. The most interesting case can be BIMEP where an environmental monitoring plan was carried out. For example, this included monitoring activities during the installation of the electrical cables.

In Spain, no dedicated consenting process exists ocean energy technologies.

The consenting process is based on three main legal instruments that are briefly outlined here.

• Royal Decree 1028/2007, of 20 July – establishes the administrative procedure for processing applications for electricity generating facilities in territorial waters. Although it focuses on offshore wind, it also includes electricity generation from other marine renewable technologies (Article 32). This Decree foresees a simplified procedure governed by Royal Decree 1955/2000, of 1 December, which provides that construction, extension, modification and exploitation of all electric installations listed (in Article 111) require the following administrative procedures and sanctions to be followed:
- Request for Administrative Authorization (AA) – refers to the project’s draft installation plan as a technical document;
- Project Execution Approval (AEP) – refers to the commissioning of the specific project and allows the applicant to start construction;
- Exploitation Authorization (EA) – allows the installations, once the project is installed, to be powered up and proceed to commercial exploitation.
• Law 21/2013, of 9 December, on Environmental Impact Assessment;
• Law 2/2013, of 29 May, for protection and sustainable coastal use and amending the previous Coastal Law of 1998. It provides the legal framework for occupation of the territorial sea, as well as governing issues affecting the fishing sector and safety conditions for maritime navigation. Management and surveillance competences relating to the Public Maritime Domain on Land (MTPD), which includes the territorial sea, rest with the General Council on Coast and Ocean Sustainability which forms part of the Ministry of rural, Marine and Natural Environment. Coastal Demarcation Departments are their representatives in each coastal province and Autonomous Community. Therefore, the development of electric power projects in the territorial sea must comply with the legal requirements governing the administrative process for granting titles to territorial occupation (prior to and during the project development) and associated arrangements (e.g. deadlines, transfers and expiry.

Legislation and regulation that have been adapted to better suit ocean energy:

• The new law for EIA substantially reduces the time for obtaining the Environmental Impact Authorization;
• Royal Decree 1028/2007 – it is simplified for ocean energy since a competitive procedure between promoters (which applied for offshore wind) is not considered for ocean energy.

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 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 the public feed-back on their activities at sea.

It is clear to applicants what permits are required, in what order and what information must be supplied at what time, but no specific guideline (single document) is available for developers.

Deployment at Bimep is already pre-consented so developers do not have to submit a full application comprising all the typical consents providing certain initial conditions are met.