The Crown Estate has released further details on its plan for Offshore Leasing Round 5, which is expected to be the first phase of development in the Celtic Sea.
It has confirmed:
- 3 Project Development Areas (PDAs) of roughly equal size are expected to be made available to bidders, as opposed to the previously proposed four PDAs of varying sizes.
- No bidder will be able to secure an Agreement for Lease for more than one PDA.
- The overall capacity available through Round 5 has increased from a possible 4GW to up to 4.5GW, enough to power more than 4 million homes.
- The outer boundary of the area containing the PDAs remains unchanged, as do the key ‘minded-to’ technical parameters like separation distances between adjacent projects.
- Development of each PDA may occur in multiple projects or phases of at least 300MW as previously advised (up to a maximum of three projects or phases).
This announcement marks another step towards realising the FLOW opportunity in the Celtic Sea, and Marine Energy Wales particularly welcomes the increase in planned capacity for Round 5 to 4.5GW. This latest update has addressed a number of pressing issues and provided some much-called for clarity.
In particular, confirming Project Development Areas and capacities means The Holistic Network Design follow up exercise can progress, enabling grid infrastructure readiness in the UK. Similarly, the progression of the Plan-Level Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) is a positive step and should help generate greater momentum and investor confidence.
To support developers in preparing for Round 5, it is also positive to see the planned publication of the technical spec used for ongoing surveys. Likewise, the planned summary characterisation reports, site selection methodology, and marine stakeholder engagement summaries for the PDAs will be very welcome.
From a Welsh and wider UK perspective, it is particularly encouraging to see The Crown Estate confirming that they plan to use the leasing round to drive broader social and economic value – including a requirement for developers to set out specific commitments to ports. The four areas of focus will be:
- Employment and training opportunities
- Tackling inequalities in employment
- Environmental benefits aimed at working towards Net Zero, protecting habitats and supporting industrial carbonisation
- Delivering sustainable and desirable community benefits
Taken together, we hope these commitments will ensure developers can play their part in creating a transformative opportunity for communities and businesses in regions where Round 5 projects will be developed and delivered. We look forward to more information on how these requirements will be assessed.
The Crown Estate said they had refined elements of the leasing round in response to engagement with the market, and hope the revisions can maximise flexibility for developers, mitigate development risk and promote efficient use of the seabed.
Round 5 is set to be one of the biggest projects of its kind in the world and will be a game changer for the UK’s energy security and net zero ambitions. It also stands to be transformative for communities across South Wales and South West England.
Businesses and communities of all sizes stand to benefit from the opportunities on offer, but it will require ongoing collaboration to make these a reality. We will continue to work closely with governments, industry partners and our full range of stakeholders to drive the partnerships needed to truly realise the full potential of floating wind in the Celtic Sea.Gus Jaspert, Managing Director Marine at The Crown Estate
Whilst no information has yet been shared on the future pipeline in the Celtic Sea, it is positive to see that TCE recognises its importance in generating market confidence and unlocking investment.
We encourage and support the ongoing engagement TCE is having with UK Government to address these issues and look forward to the publication of the Information Memorandum later this year.
Read more: https://www.thecrownestate.co.uk/en-gb/media-and-insights/news/2023-the-crown-estate-refines-plans-for-celtic-sea-floating-wind/