Illustration/HydroQuest's 1MW tidal energy turbine for Paimpol-Bréhat site (Courtesy of Ocean Energy Europe)

ETIP Ocean releases guide for ocean energy community engagement

The European Technology and Innovation Platform for Ocean Energy (ETIP Ocean) has published a new guide that proposes best practices for local community engagement in ocean energy projects.

Illustration/HydroQuest's 1MW tidal energy turbine for Paimpol-Bréhat site (Courtesy of Ocean Energy Europe)

Inclusive, frequent and transparent local community engagement reinforces local support for ocean energy projects, according to a new guide launched by ETIP Ocean.

Ocean energy is generally very welcomed by locals as a means to create local jobs and fight climate change. Adopting the best practices used in ocean energy projects today will help future projects build trust, pre-empt opposition and deploy in accordance with the local community, the sectoral advisory body ETIP Ocean said.

The guide aims to help ocean energy developers design their own community engagement strategy. It lays out the best practices used in existing ocean energy projects, identified through a first ever study focusing on local community engagement in the ocean energy sector, carried out by France Énergies Marines.

The best practices advocate a thorough mapping of stakeholders and local issues, adding that involving scientific experts will bring in credible and factual information.

Engaging with stakeholders early and throughout the project is also key, as it creates trust and reduces information overload. Information should be shared transparently and via different media. Educating the locals on the project, technology and local benefits will improve social acceptance, the guide states.

Organizing in-person meetings with the whole community and key stakeholders is another vital practice to address questions and consult the locals. To help liaise with the community, the guide proposes identifying a local mediator or creating a steering committee.

By following these practices, developers can strengthen local support, accelerate permitting and reduce project costs. Developing ocean energy in harmony with local communities will provide a faster path to industrial roll-out.

Rémi Gruet, Ocean Energy Europe’s CEO, said : “This first-of-a-kind guide for ocean energy community engagement allows the sector to further strengthen the positive local perception towards ocean energy. Engaging with local communities is often required by permitting authorities and if done correctly, can hugely facilitate project development. These best practices should be a central part of any ocean energy project’s local community engagement strategy.”