Mariparks and multiuse to support sustainability efforts on North Sea

According to Erwin Coolen, Director of ECHT, we need Mariparks, which are offshore business areas, and multiuse to reach energy, food and nature transitions that are ongoing on the North Sea.

Navingo BV

Together with Nathalie Scheidegger, Project Leader Sustainable Blue Economy, Netherlands’ Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, Coolen presented the Maripark concept at the Offshore Energy Exhibition & Conference (OEEC) 2023, describing it as an area where users can rent a plot and where shared facilities or shared services are facilitated by an operator.

Coolen revealed that the Maripark project, which is a public-private initiative, is expected to be ready for operations in 2026, noting that in 2024, “we want to do the design and get the partners on board. Then in 2025, we’re going to make all shared facilities. So, in 2026, you can call us for rent and then it’s open for business.”

Explaining Maripark, Scheidegger stated: “We decided that we would like to realize the energy, food and nature transition in balance. What we realize in the Netherlands, but also in other countries, is that space at sea is becoming very limited. That’s why multiuse is becoming more and more important. And if you think about multiuse, wind parks have a very important role because we can create balance within the wind park with multiuse by, for example, a realization of nature-inclusive building. But we also want to include food production, like aquaculture.”

“At the moment, we have a lot of pilots, not only in the Netherlands but also worldwide, and what we see is that we are staying in the pilot phase because every sector, also renewable energy, like solar, food, nature restoration, we stay in each sector. And what we need is an overarching approach, and that’s what we are elaborating at the moment in the Netherlands, but also in other countries, and it is Maripark.”

As for the types of businesses that are expected in Maripark, Coolen said the project needs people who want to be new entrepreneurs in the sustainable blue economy, which, as per Scheidegger, is the realization of energy, food and nature transition.

Coolen mentioned startups, scaleups, big organizations, funds and investors, adding that there is also a need for a consortium or an entity of people who want to do the operations of the Maripark.

“Together, they need to start developing the Maripark and go for the permits as an entity and provide the shared services. And then, the sustainable blue entrepreneurs, they can just step to the plate and do their business,” Coolen concluded.

Commenting on multiuse and wind parks, Coolen emphasized that wind owners and operators need to step to the plate like they did with circularity, ecology and biodiversity: “You can not just claim the entire space just for power generation. You need to, well do that in a multiuse way. So I think, if they don’t, then it’s the end of success of wind.”

According to Scheidegger, it is possible to retrofit existing wind parks to multiuse as well as to have multiuse from the moment of designing the wind park.

To conclude, Coolen said: “When we started to build wind turbines from onshore to offshore, there was a lot of scepticism… And just look where we are now. And I think we are really at the same point with Mariparks. A lot of people are saying: ‘can’t be done’ … And I’m really convinced that Maripark will be as successful or even more successful than offshore wind.”

Watch the full session “Maripark – Exploring Multiuse Opportunities in North Sea, Mariparks for Blue Economy Entrepreneurs” in the video below:

View on Vimeo.

We have just launched a new, dedicated site for OEEC! Follow for all the updates related to the 2024 edition:

Offshore Energy Exhibition & Conference

Read all the news from OEEC 2023 on Offshore Energy.