Crown Estate unveils plans for Celtic Sea floating wind lease

In: Windfarms
24/03/2021

The Crown Estate has announced that it is commencing work to design and deliver a new leasing opportunity for early commercial-scale floating wind projects in the Celtic Sea.  

The leasing process will focus on projects of circa 300 MW -- up to 3 times larger than any rights previously awarded to floating wind in the UK.

The news follows the Crown Estate’s invitation to the market, in December 2020, to come forward with views on how best to accelerate the development of floating wind in the UK, including welcoming feedback on the potential scale and location of future rights and the best route to help build the related  supply chain.  

Since then, the Crown Estate has received and reviewed input from over 30 interested market participants across industry and other key stakeholder groups, with feedback confirming there is strong interest in new floating wind rights. Feedback also revealed that the market is confident that current floating wind technology will allow the sector to move to the next phase and deploy early commercial scale projects.  

The Crown Estate noted that there is appetite to now develop projects that are around 300MW in size, moving the sector onto an ‘early commercial’ phase, with a desire for a pipeline of opportunities that helps to continue to build market confidence. Feedback also highlighted strong interest in project locations in the Celtic Sea - the waters in the region around the South Wales coast and the South West peninsular.

This leasing process builds on the Crown Estate’s work to support the development of floating wind technology through its test and demonstration opportunity, which last year awarded rights to developers Blue Gem Wind, for the proposed 96 MW
Erebus floating wind project, in the Welsh waters of the Celtic Sea.  

Alongside its work to design this early commercial scale floating wind leasing opportunity, the Crown Estate will also explore how best to support pre-commercial, smaller projects that will continue to be an important part of developing new technologies for a range of seabed conditions and locations. We will set out our approach alongside our broader leasing process in the coming months.  

The Crown Estate stated that it is also exploring ways in which it can promote more collaboration across the sector to accelerate development and maximise its economic and social value – through supply chain and other benefits, especially to those communities local to projects.  

As part of this, the Crown Estate is considering what other enabling actions it could take to facilitate the sector, shared infrastructure that will be vital for supporting a sector that can be a critical part of the UK’s net zero economy.

Huub den Rooijen, Director of the Crown Estate’s Energy, Minerals and Infrastructure portfolio, said: “Floating offshore wind is the next frontier of the UK’s clean energy ambitions, offering an exciting opportunity to deliver more green energy, in new areas offshore. As a technology that will be important for the UK’s pathway to net zero, we are focused on helping to unlock its potential in a way that is sensitive to our precious marine habitats, considers interactions with other uses of the sea, and is compatible with other critical processes such as the tender for Leasing Round 4.  Today’s announcement is an important step in providing the market the confidence it needs to plan and invest, bringing with it huge opportunities for jobs and the supply chain.”
 
The Crown Estate will provide further details on leasing design in the coming months.
 

For more information on floating offshore wind farms worldwide, click here.

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