01 December 2020

The Crown Estate signals boost for floating offshore wind with a call for views on how to drive forward new projects by 2030

The Government’s ambition to deliver 1GW of floating wind by 2030 takes another step forward today as The Crown Estate asks the market to come forward with views on how best to accelerate the development of floating wind in the UK.

In an important sign of intent, it has invited views from the market on the following:

  • The scale of the opportunity for floating wind in the UK and the likely pipeline of projects between now and 2030;
  • How rights to develop floating offshore wind could be made available in a way that accelerates deployment and helps build a strong UK supply chain;
  • The likely impact of floating wind development on spatial and environmental considerations given an increasingly busy marine environment. 

Feedback received will directly inform The Crown Estate’s work on the potential design, scale and shape of any future floating offshore wind leasing activity, in support of the Government’s ambition to deliver 1GW of floating wind by 2030 and aligned with the Government’s Contracts for Difference auctions. Following this market engagement, a further update will be made next year to outline The Crown Estate’s plans to enable the next phase of early commercial-scale floating wind. 

Huub den Rooijen, Director of Energy, Minerals & Infrastructure at The Crown Estate, says: “Floating offshore wind is an essential technology to achieve net zero by 2050. It can open up new locations for offshore wind across the UK’s seabed, creating a new economic success story with potential for jobs up and down the country.

“With clear Government policy and market appetite, the time has come to move beyond demonstration. We look forward to working closely with the market and stakeholders to enable early commercial-scale floating wind projects in a way which recognises the wide range of interests offshore and protects our marine environment.”

Lesley Griffiths, Welsh Government Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, said: “I am very pleased that the Crown Estate are keen to discuss future opportunities for floating offshore energy production.

“The Crown Estate’s management of such opportunities, and how it plans leasing activity, plays a vital role in the future of offshore energy production.

“Discussions such as these help to give confidence to those planning large-scale projects within the sector, and we will continue to engage with The Crown Estate for a timely resolution.”

As manager of the seabed around England, Wales and Northern Ireland, The Crown Estate is committed to taking a strategic and holistic view of how the UK’s world-class offshore wind resources can support the nation’s net zero ambition and wider environmental considerations in the most effective way.

To achieve this, its 100MW capacity Test and Demonstration seabed rights process will be temporarily paused for new applications. This will provide the chance to assess the current state of play of the whole offshore wind pipeline and consider how future seabed leasing for early commercial floating wind projects could fit with existing activities offshore.

As part of The Crown Estate’s commitment to enable future development potential in the waters off England, Wales and Northern Ireland beyond 2030, it recently published ‘Broad Horizons’, a technical analysis of key resource areas for offshore wind. This shows that, given technological advances in the sector by 2040 including the potential offered by floating offshore wind, there will be few technical limits to where offshore wind developments can be sited.

This is a first step to understanding which areas could practically be made available for development beyond 2030. A much broader evidence base will now need to be established to account for the resilience of environmentally sensitive areas and the rich biodiversity offshore, as well as the many competing demands from an increasingly busy marine environment. The Crown Estate is working with governments, regulators and stakeholders to develop this evidence base, which will play a crucial role in understanding where the most favourable opportunities for future offshore wind deployment lie.

Any organisation wishing to feed in to the market engagement process should visit www.thecrownestate.co.uk/en-gb/what-we-do/on-the-seabed/energy/offshore-wind-innovation-and-demonstration/

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