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Largest Lease Area Planned as UK Develops Floating Offshore Wind

largest offshore loating wind farm leases
Current Walney wind farm in the Isrish Sea (The Crown Estate)

Published Mar 24, 2021 5:57 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Crown Estate, which manages the UK sovereign’s public lands is commencing work leading up to the offering of the largest leasing opportunity for commercial floating wind projects. To be located in the Celtic Sea, the lease area will be three times larger than any rights previously awarded for floating wind in the UK. A total of six projects are progressing with each approximately 300MW in scale.

There is strong interest in new floating wind rights based on a response from over 30 interested companies in the market after The Crown Estate in December 2020 asked for views on how best to accelerate the development of floating wind in the UK. The comments demonstrated that the market is confident that current floating wind technology will allow the sector to move to the next phase and deploy early commercial-scale projects.

With the floating wind industry moving forward, the participants expressed interest to The Crown Estate to focus on developing larger projects that are around 300MV to support commercialization. They also expressed a desire for a pipeline of opportunities that could help to continue to build market confidence.

Among the geographic areas that the companies see as having the strongest potential are locations in the Celtic Sea. The waters in the region around the South Wales coast and the South West peninsular will be targeted for the development of the offshore wind installations.

"The Crown Estate is creating an exciting opportunity for renewable energy developers in the Celtic Sea, which will help the UK to maintain its global lead in floating wind,” said RenewableUK's Head of Policy and Regulation, Rebecca Williams. “There is a huge appetite within the industry to deploy this innovative technology. Floating wind is essential for the UK to reach its legally-binding net zero emissions target by 2050 – we can’t get there without it."   

The future leasing process will build on The Crown Estate’s work to support the development of floating wind technology through its test and demonstration opportunity, which last year awarded rights for a proposed 96 MW floating wind project in the Welsh waters of the Celtic Sea.  Going forward The Crown Estate will also explore increasing collaboration across the sector and how best to support pre-commercial, smaller projects that will continue to be an important part of developing new technologies for a range of seabed conditions and locations. 

Huub den Rooijen, Director of The Crown Estate’s Energy, Minerals, and Infrastructure portfolio said that he views floating offshore wind as the next frontier of the UK’s clean energy ambitions. The steps they are taking now as designed to provide the market the confidence it needs to plan and invest to support the development of the floating offshore wind industry and maintain the UK’s leadership in the sector.