Offshore Wind Evidence and Change Programme

Enabling the sustainable and coordinated expansion of offshore wind

Over the next few decades, the UK offshore wind industry will deliver a significant and growing contribution to the nation’s electricity needs and help the UK to meet its 2050 net zero ambitions.

As manager of the seabed around England, Wales and Northern Ireland, we know that finding a balance between future energy needs and the wide range of interests in the marine environment is central to achieving long-term sustainable growth of the offshore wind sector.

With this in mind, we are funding and delivering the Offshore Wind Evidence and Change (OWEC) Programme, an ambitious strategic programme that will play a pivotal role in achieving the environmental aspirations of the Offshore Wind Sector Deal alongside other strategic delivery programmes.

It forms part of The Crown Estate's active, long-term role in offshore wind, working in partnership with industry, stakeholders and Government to facilitate the coordinated growth of the sector and help to unlock the extraordinary potential of the UK's seabed. You can read more about this here.

Programme purpose

The purpose of this programme is to facilitate the sustainable and coordinated expansion of offshore wind in the UK. This collaborative programme will help the sector to meet the UK’s commitments to the low carbon energy transition whilst supporting action to secure clean, healthy, productive and biologically diverse seas.

Who is involved?

The OWEC programme is being led by The Crown Estate, together with its programme partners, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

It will be delivered in collaboration with organisations with an interest in planning for the future of offshore wind and the underpinning evidence requirements. Prior to launch, we will be establishing the OWEC Programme Steering Group to provide oversight and direction to this programme and help us achieve the outcomes that will underpin the successful delivery of the programme.

Programme scope

The Offshore Wind Evidence and Change Programme will comprise a mix of studies, research projects and evidence-gathering to help better understand and overcome the cumulative environmental impacts of offshore wind, and its effects on users of the sea and onshore communities.

In collaboration with key stakeholders, we have identified these four overarching themes as priorities.

  • Spatial co-ordination and co-location
  • Understanding environmental effects
  • Unlocking more offshore wind through "derogation"
  • Delivering net environmental gains

Project updates

Pathfinder project: East Coast Grid Constraints study

The seabed around the east coast of England has extraordinary potential for offshore wind development. To ensure the sustainable development of offshore wind in the region, it is important we have greater evidence and a deeper understanding of the local environment and community impacts of connecting windfarms to the grid. This will be significant in informing future policy choices on provision of offshore transmission infrastructure.

This project aims to better understand the constraints that offshore wind farms on the east coast of England are likely to face when connecting into the electricity network and whether alternative approaches to connection can reduce community and environmental impacts.  It will assess whether adopting a more coordinated approach to offshore transmission in the region could mitigate the potential risks of these constraints to offshore wind development, compared to the current approach of point-to-point radial links.

Constraints both at sea and on land will be considered, including cable route challenges around designated areas and existing infrastructure, limitations on suitable cable landfall locations and the proximity of these landfall locations to the existing onshore transmission system.

The project is being led by The Crown Estate, in partnership with National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO), National Grid Electricity Transmission and the Marine Management Organisation. AECOM has been appointed to provide consultancy services to deliver the project. The project is targeting completion in late-2020, and the results of the analysis will be used to inform the current reviews around the delivery of offshore transmission infrastructure being carried out by BEIS, Ofgem and the ESO.  Outputs will be shared with key stakeholders, including the Programme Steering Group, before being published on this page.  This is a pilot study and it is intended that the methodology developed will be transferrable to other regions, subject to need.

Programme updates

Programme Steering Group meeting – 7 September 2020

On 7 September 2020, The Crown Estate and its programme partners, BEIS and Defra, convened their first meeting of the Steering Group for the Offshore Wind Evidence and Change Programme. Some 24 organisations were invited to formally sign a terms of reference to signal their commitment. Membership has been selected to reflect a balance of organisations from the devolved governments, planning and environmental regulatory bodies and their statutory advisors, representatives from the offshore wind industry and environmental non-governmental organisations. The proposed aims, objectives, structure and delivery plan for the Offshore Wind Evidence and Change Programme – developed based on feedback and engagement - were presented to prospective members as a basis for future collaboration. In the coming months we expect to formalise membership and officially launch the 5-year programme. The roll out of pathfinder projects continues.

OWEC Programme Steering Group check-in - 22 July 2020

On 22 July 2020, The Crown Estate and its programme partners, BEIS and Defra, held a check-in meeting with senior representatives from some 25 organisations who have been invited to become members of the OWEC programme steering group. This was an opportunity for us to share a progress update and to take soundings from prospective members.

Membership of the OWEC programme steering group is still being confirmed. We intend it to have a representative balance from: the devolved governments; planning and environmental regulatory bodies and their statutory advisors, representatives from the offshore wind industry and environmental non-governmental organisations.

Stakeholder workshop - 4 December 2019

On 4 December 2019, we welcomed representatives from a diverse range of offshore interests to a collaborative workshop. The workshop focused on defining outcomes and priorities, and scoping actions that will help us shape the structure and delivery plan for the programme.

You can find summaries of key themes, issues and outcomes of the workshop on the side pane. We would like to thank those who contributed to these discussions and we look forward to your engagement at our future events.

Following the workshop, the Programme has continued to progress through collaboration between partners towards a formal launch later this year and the roll out of early projects.

Contact

Mandy King

Programme Manager

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