Developers seeking to anchor up to 4GW of floating turbines in the Celtic Sea face new rules from the Crown Estate.
The Estate’s ownership and planning remit embraces waters and seabed as far as 12 nautical miles off Britain’s coasts. Last year, the authority set out its early options to lease plots for the floating wind projects in the Celtic Sea off Wales and the South West.
In its latest tweak, the Crown Estate now offers developers help to de-risk their plans for turbines floating in deep seas, before competitive bidding begins later this year. Electricity catering for the needs of a notional 4 million homes is anticipated.
Short term licencing of test projects, approval for pre-consent surveys and permitting early grid design work & environmental assessment, are among steps the Estate now offers to de-risk investment.
After talks last year with stakeholders including officials in Whitehall and Cardiff, in May the authority brought developers up to speed on its conclusions. Competing demands on the plots required further thought in Whitehall, it said.
Two months on, the Crown Estate is now focussing on delivery of up to 4GW of floating wind capacity, located in four project sites in two of the shortlisted search areas published in October 2022.
The Estate believes these sites offer an attractive investment opportunity for developers in a global market as a first phase of development in the Celtic Sea.
Bidders must now state how they will reflect ports’ role in assembly and deployment of turbines. What the authority calls ‘integration ports’ will play a key role in the manufacture and storage of turbine components. The closer such ports are to the turbines’ final locations, the better.
The new tenders also require developers to state clearly their plans for lasting social and environmental value.
Gus Jaspert, the Estate’s Marine affairs managing director, said: “Establishing floating wind in the Celtic Sea is a fantastic opportunity for the UK to build on its position at the forefront of the global offshore renewables market and lead the world in this new technology.
“This initial phase of up to 4GW of floating wind in the Celtic Sea has the potential to be among the world’s largest developments of its kind. The Estate is excited to bring social value to the fore while helping to power the country with clean electricity, as well as stimulating growth and investment”.