The Crown Estate has updated developers on the design of the tender process for seabed leasing for floating wind energy in the Celtic Sea. The Celtic Sea programme is intended to provide 4GW of renewable energy capacity by 2035, with the region assessed to have the economic potential to accommodate up to an additional 20GW by 2045. The programme will not only boost the UK’s net zero ambitions and deliver enhanced energy security, but will also create new jobs, skills and investment, including in Wales and the South West of England.
The update will enable potential developers to form consortia and prepare for the tender which will launch in mid-2023. The Crown Estate has advised developers that, as part of their participation, they will be expected to provide a plan of their early investment in support of an internationally competitive supply chain. Submission of these plans, alongside other legal, financial and technical elements, will determine whether participants qualify for proceeding to the final stage of the tender. Developers who are successful in the tender will be expected to update their plans as they develop their projects, so that The Crown Estate and other stakeholders can understand how best to support supply chain development. The final award of an Agreement for Lease for each site will be based on price offered, meaning greatest value delivered for the nation from the tender process.
Following the announcement in July of five broad ‘Areas of Search’, The Crown Estate has now published ‘Refined Areas of Search’ which are smaller areas of seabed within which projects may be located in the future. The original Areas 1 and 5 have been removed from current consideration, while five smaller areas have been identified within Areas 2, 3 and 4, after engagement with multiple stakeholders.
The resulting five smaller areas will be further refined over the coming months into potential Project Development Areas, in order to ensure that developers have access to floating offshore wind locations that are expected to be deliverable in the near term. This process will continue to be guided by continued engagement with stakeholders, including fishing communities and environmental groups.
The Crown Estate is seeking to accelerate the leasing process where possible, recognising the importance of bringing floating wind on-stream as soon as possible. The work of identifying Project Development Areas is being undertaken simultaneously with the plan-level Habitats Regulations Assessment, which assesses the potential impact of leasing on environmentally valuable habitats. The Crown Estate will also conduct engineering and environmental surveys in advance of consenting, with a view to being able to supply data to successful bidders to accelerate delivery of their projects, potentially by many months.
Nicola Clay, Head of New Ventures Marine at The Crown Estate, said:
“This update marks another step towards developing floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea, refining the areas of search and outlining the 2023 tender process. Recognising the importance of a strong supply chain, we will be asking bidders to submit their supply chain plans as a key part of their bid. In an internationally competitive market, The Crown Estate will continue to facilitate investment in jobs, skills and infrastructure, so that communities neighbouring the Celtic Sea may benefit from the opportunities that a floating wind economy can generate.”
Dan McGrail, Chief Executive of RenewableUK, said:
“This announcement is a key step forward in the roll-out of innovative floating wind projects in British waters. We particularly welcome the measures to ensure that the UK builds up a strong floating wind supply chain, and The Crown Estate’s commitment to speed up the development process by carrying out vital environmental work early, as the industry had proposed. The Celtic Sea projects will boost our position as a global leader in this cutting-edge technology, as well as enhancing our ability to generate vast amounts of clean electricity at low cost for consumers in the years ahead. The UK needs to pull out all the stops to unlock the vast potential of floating wind to strengthen our energy security, as well as bringing enormous industrial benefits in jobs, investment and opportunities to export our technology worldwide.”
For more information about The Crown Estate’s work on floating wind projects in the Celtic Sea, please visit: www.thecrownestate.co.uk/en-gb/what-we-do/on-the-seabed/energy/floating-offshore-wind/.
To register to be kept informed about new offshore leasing and licensing processes, please visit: www.thecrownestate.co.uk/en-gb/what-we-do/on-the-seabed/registration-for-new-offshore-leasinglicensing-processes/