FP7-OCEAN-2011 / MERMAID
Innovative Multi-purpose offshore platforms: planning, Design and operation
European oceans will be subject to massive development of marine infrastructure in the near future that is why the concept of multi-use offshore platforms is particularly interesting, especially in connection with the development of energy facilities e.g. offshore wind farms, exploitation of wave energy, and also development and implementation of marine aquaculture. These developments require effective marine technology and governance solutions. Simultaneously, both economic costs and environmental impacts have to remain within acceptable limits. These concerns are at the core of the MERMAID project funded under "The Ocean of Tomorrow" call for proposals.
The MERMAID project began on the 1st January 2012 and the kick-off meeting took place in March 2012. The main objective was the drafting of an inception report and a QA (Quality assurance) plan for the entire project. The inception report provides the basis for the research that will be carried out during the remaining part of the project. The first consultation involving stakeholders from government offices, industry, facility managers, NGO's and other stakeholders has been completed for each of the four selected project sites: Baltic Sea, North Sea, Atlantic and Mediterranean
in order to clarify the most important issues regarding technical, environmental and socioeconomic analyses. An inventory on existing legislative framework and policies regarding offshore wind farms and aquaculture in EU has been elaborated. A methodology for Integrated Socio-Economic Assessment (ISEA) has also been developed. The end product of MERMAID will include guidelines for project development in order to facilitate a smooth and safe management and implementation of the Multi Use Platforms (MUP) concept. Work on the guidelines has already started.
The knowledge and science base for multi-disciplinary approaches will be strengthened. As part of this activity, the accumulated effect of various large scale structures interaction with for example waves, currents or seabed as well as the mixing and dispersion processes will be analysed in detail. This will be useful for designers, manufacturers and contractors. A decision-support system regarding transport infrastructure and the economic and environmental feasibility of the Multi-use offshore platforms will be tackled. Specific questions will be addressed such as: will the environmental impact decrease or increase? Will the multi-use approach lead to a better exploration of ocean space for aquaculture? Addressing such key questions will be of interest to Governmental agencies, spatial planners (private and public), investors and NGO's (Non- Governmental Organisations).
The test areas were chosen to represent different marine environments, socio-economic conditions and data accessibility. The potential to create direct connections between local research teams, stakeholders, decision makers, SMEs and the industry were also key elements when selecting the case studies. First concepts for multi-use platforms at the four sites are under development. Early engagement of multiple stakeholders from a wide array of sectors is critical to address such complex issues and will facilitate cooperation for the future. MERMAID has also established close links with the TROPOS and H2OCEAN projects funded under the same "The Ocean of Tomorrow" topic in order to enhance complementarities and synergies. This cooperation agreement focuses on three areas: EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment), SEA (Socio-Economic Analyses) and LCA (Life Cycle Assessment).