Britain’s Crown Estate is to start work on producing a new leasing round for commercial-scale floating wind power projects in the Celtic Sea.
Floating wind farms are an emerging technology with far higher costs than plants fixed to the seabed, but costs are expected to fall as more projects are brought online, opening up huge potential to develop projects further offshore.
The Crown Estate, which manages the seabed and half the foreshore around England, Wales and Northern Ireland, said the leasing process would focus on projects around 300 megawatts, up to three times larger than any rights previously awarded to floating wind in Britain.
The government aims to deliver 1 gigawatt of floating wind by 2030.
“Floating offshore wind is the next frontier of the UK’s clean energy ambitions, offering an exciting opportunity to deliver more green energy, in new areas offshore,” said Huub den Rooijen, Director of The Crown Estate’s Energy, Minerals and Infrastructure portfolio.
“As a technology that will be important for the UK’s pathway to net zero, we are focused on helping to unlock its potential in a way that is sensitive to our precious marine habitats, considers interactions with other uses of the sea, and is compatible with other critical processes such as the tender for Leasing Round 4.”
“Today’s announcement is an important step in providing the market the confidence it needs to plan and invest, bringing with it huge opportunities for jobs and the supply chain,” he added.
The UK’s energy minister, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, said: “Floating offshore projects are going to be vital in ensuring we unlock the full potential of natural resources in the windiest parts around our coastline and ensure the UK remains a world-leader in offshore wind.”
“It is our ambition to ensure every home is powered by wind by 2030 and creating new leasing opportunities in the Celtic Sea will help us reach our ambitions, expanding our capabilities further and faster, creating jobs and generating investment as we continue building back greener.”
RenewableUK’s head of Policy and Regulation, Rebecca Williams, added: “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. 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 Crown Estate said it would provide further details about the leasing round in coming months.