Promoting Sweden’s competitiveness and prosperity

Europe’s blue economy provides 4.5 million direct jobs and is a fast-moving segment of the EU economy (European Commission et al., 2021). The blue economy has modernised, diversified and innovative sectors have evolved providing new prospects and creating jobs. This trend is expected to follow in the rest of the world, so that by 2030 the blue economy is expected to double both in terms of value added and employment but with a high risk of ocean ecosystem degradation.

Shipping is the most important sector of the Swedish blue economy, with a yearly turnover of 85 billion SEK. More importantly, around 90 % of Sweden’s export and import of goods pass through Swedish ports, and in addition 67 million persons per year (Maritime Cluster of West Sweden, 2022). Ongoing research and innovation efforts are focusing on the dramatic challenge of maintaining this lifeline, while at the same time improve sustainability, including the shift to fossil free shipping (Lighthouse, 2021). C2B2 will bring together key stakeholders and the most active research environments in co-creation in three LivingLabs focused on some of the most crucial shipping areas for Sweden, exposing the urgent efforts of the shipping sector to the realism of competing or possibly synergetic interests of the other main sectors of the expanding blue economy.

Fisheries today are a much lesser economic activity in Sweden, corresponding to about 1.4 billion SEK per year (Fiskbranschens Riksförbund, 2022). The sector used to contribute with a significant part of Sweden’s food supply (historically even a crucial role for city populations’ survival) and maintains strong local importance. Currently the Swedish offshore fishery is largely disconnected from the main value chains in Sweden, with Swedish catches being landed abroad and used as animal feed, while the Swedish sea food industry uses imported catch and cultivated fish (Hornborg et al. 2021). The current emphasis on producing seafood by aquaculture is focusing on the coastal zone, because of the much larger physical and logistical challenges offshore. C2B2 will provide knowledge about how a sustainable fishing sector can exist in tomorrow’s blue economy. C2B2 will do this by focusing on high nutrient and novel seafood, on innovation and multifunctionality, and on viable value chains in three areas with widely different characteristics, both environmentally and economically.

Tourism is a very important sector in the Swedish economy, contributing to about 10 % of both BNP and employment (Maritime Cluster of West Sweden, 2022), with a large share focused in coastal areas. Marine offshore tourism is a small segment, possibly of emerging significance. C2B2 will demonstrate new forms of sustainable tourism in the offshore domain. More accessible technology and infrastructure (sensors, cameras, communication, automation, robotics) together with fossil free boating has the power to transform marine offshore tourism into a broad activity, centered around experiencing marine life, history and archelogy, citizen science and technology (not necessarily expensive or fast boats). C2B2 will demonstrate that Sweden both has the offshore sites that can rival the most exotic places on land (both on site and from the sofa) and the knowledge to create a new technologically advanced and sustainable tourism segment.

Marine renewable energy production is listed as an established sector by the European Commission and the EU now has a total installed offshore wind capacity of 15 GW across 11 countries (European Commission, 2021). Even though Europe is by far the world leader, Sweden is currently a long way behind the leading European countries. Sweden plans to change this dramatically within the coming two decades. Sweden’s current wind power capacity of around 10 GW (almost all on land) is set to more than double by 2040, mostly by expansion offshore (Svensk Vindenergi, 2021). The transforming power of this should not to be underestimated. The wide introduction of hard surfaces and stable mounts, of access to power and to fast data communication will transform how Sweden interacts with its offshore domain. C2B2 will demonstrate the far-reaching scope for cascading effects and opportunities in the offshore energy economy. An illustrative and much mentioned example (e.g. European Commission, 2021) is the prospect of co-locating offshore wind farms and aquaculture, possibly upending the challenges mentioned above. However, C2B2 will demonstrate that the synergetic effects can transform all sectors of Sweden’s blue economy, including shipping and tourism, as well as our capacity to monitor and create knowledge about the ocean environment. The vast majority of existing plans (and all mature plans) for offshore wind in Sweden are for bottom-fixed solutions. Given the huge implications of the existing plans, we believe it will be sufficiently challenging to consider these within C2B2. Among our associated partners we also have leading expertise in floating offshore wind solutions, which is increasingly looking like a possible game changer in the (not so distant) future.

Contact persons

Andreas Bach

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