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03 March 2022

200 terabytes of free-to-access marine data gives UK offshore development the edge

Data to support the sustainable growth of UK offshore development has never been more accessible thanks to an upgrade of The Crown Estate’s online Marine Data Exchange (MDE), the world’s largest database of offshore renewables survey data, research and evidence.

Since the emergence of the first operational offshore wind farms in the UK just over 20 years ago, The Crown Estate’s offshore wind customers have agreed to share data collated throughout the lifecycle of their projects, in a bid to support the future sustainable growth of the offshore renewables industry.

This led to the creation of the online Marine Data Exchange (MDE) in 2013, which has grown to become the biggest database of offshore renewables survey data in the world, holding over 200 terabytes of survey data from offshore projects across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The free-to-access online database now includes over 2,300 survey campaigns collated from feasibility through to decommissioning studies across the offshore wind, marine aggregates and wave and tidal sectors. It also hosts outputs from the Offshore Wind Evidence and Change programme, evidence projects commissioned by The Crown Estate, and outputs from The Crown Estate’s spatial analysis and plan-level Habitats Regulations Assessments.

The new-look MDE is the result of 12 months of testing and refining with a wide variety of users who have helped make the process of accessing and analysing this wealth of data easier than ever before.

Improvements include a more user-friendly and intuitive design, improved search speed and browsing functionality, easier navigation for those trying to access a specific data set, and improved data visualisation capabilities.

As the offshore space becomes increasingly crowded, this wealth of freely available, high-quality data gives those involved in planning offshore projects a valuable head start in understanding potential interactions and impacts, which can ultimately lower the risk of offshore development. The new features also make it easier for users to identify knowledge gaps - and to address those gaps for the benefit of the wider sector - and to gain greater insights into the evidence which informs The Crown Estate’s decisions and processes.

Huub den Rooijen, Managing Director of Marine at The Crown Estate, says: "With the need for clean domestic energy never greater, it is imperative that we have the best possible information to design and deliver the next generation of offshore windfarms.

“An open database like the Marine Data Exchange is a critical tool in providing high quality data, and this forms a core part of The Crown Estate’s work in driving the sustainable development of the marine space."

The Crown Estate is committed to making data and insight widely available to inform and enable the co-ordinated and sustainable growth of the UK offshore industry. Other work in this area includes:

  • A new interactive mapping app, developed last year through a collaboration with the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) and Crown Estate Scotland (CES), that reveals the location of every energy-related site in the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS)
  • The publication of the annual Offshore Wind Operational report which provides in-depth insight into the progress of the UK’s offshore wind sector
  • The launch of the first ever UK-wide register of offshore wind evidence gaps which was announced last year, following the publication of a key new report by the Government’s Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC). Both the report, and the future evidence register are being funded by The Crown Estate through the Offshore Wind Evidence and Change Programme and are available on the MDE
  • The Offshore Wind Evidence and Change programme, which continues to award funding to projects to gather data and evidence that will help to find space in a busy seabed, enable better understanding of how offshore wind affects the environment and habitats, and inform decision making and understanding around environmental benefits and provision of compensation. The programme was launched in December 2020 with a £25million kick-starter fund and is led by The Crown Estate together with programme partners, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). All findings are hosted on the MDE.

To view the Marine Data Exchange (MDE) visit: https://www.marinedataexchange.co.uk/

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