The Crown Estate has updated developers on the current status of the Celtic Sea floating wind tender round, highlighting work by UK Government to review a number of spatial considerations relating to the potential locations of the proposed windfarms.
In 2021, The Crown Estate set out plans to explore viable options for a potential leasing opportunity for the first commercial-scale floating wind projects to be located in the Celtic Sea off the coast of Wales and the South West of England. This is a new technology which sees turbines placed on floating platforms tethered to the seabed, meaning they can be located in deeper waters than fixed-base wind farms. This as an exciting opportunity to provide clean, secure, renewable energy for millions of homes, while also putting the UK at the front of a new global industry, with opportunities to drive skills, investment and growth.
As part of its work, The Crown Estate has continuously engaged a wide range of stakeholders, including governments, industry and the full range of seabed users. This has focused on a number of important issues, including the spatial work to identify broad areas of search, with the aim of refining these into project development areas to be made available to market via tender.
This engagement has helped highlight that the Celtic Sea is subject to many competing demands and that there are a number of spatial considerations and policy drivers that the UK Government is currently working to resolve, supported by The Crown Estate.
The Crown Estate has now informed developers that it will set out next steps as the UK Government concludes its consideration of these issues and that it will soon circulate further information on the programme as well as a date for the next developer webinar event.
Gus Jaspert, Managing Director for Marine at The Crown Estate, said:
“Establishing floating wind in the Celtic Sea presents an exciting opportunity to draw on new technology to provide clean, renewable energy for millions of homes, while also putting the UK at the front of a new global industry, with opportunities to drive skills, investment and growth.
“However, the UK’s seabed is a complex ecosystem of natural habitats and vital industries, of which renewable energy is one part. Our role is to ensure the seabed continues to deliver value for the whole country for generations to come: taking a strategic, holistic view of the myriad uses and demands on this resource to catalyse our transition away from fossil fuels while working to support the protection and enhancement of the natural environment.
“That is why we are supporting the UK Government as it reviews a number of spatial considerations in the Celtic Sea, as part of our role to de-risk offshore renewable projects as far as possible at an early stage. We look forward to bringing developers together as soon as we are able to update them on next steps.”
The Crown Estate has taken a number of steps to help accelerate the deployment of floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea and remove some of the risks and uncertainty developers face. These include:
Giving developers options to bring forward projects in phases while the technology and supply chains mature.
Undertaking an integrated spatial design and Plan-Level Habitats Regulations Assessment process ahead of the market tender to reduce timelines and developer risk.
Working closely with National Grid ESO to ensure this is the first leasing process in the UK to have a coordinated grid connection concept.
Awarding a contract, in December 2022, for an initial phase of what is anticipated to be a multi-million pound series of technical and environmental surveys around potential locations for new floating wind farms in the Celtic Sea.