A pipeline of commercial-scale offshore windfarms in Scottish waters has come a step closer as Crown Estate Scotland made details of leasing available so that developers can start preparing project proposals
The ‘near-final’ documentation released on 31 July 2019 includes some of the proposed steps and processes which are currently close to completion.
Developers can now access detailed documents to help them prepare ahead of the final launch of the leasing. These are available upon request until 30 August 2019. Interested parties are invited to feedback any comments to enable Crown Estate Scotland to fine-tune the process.
Crown Estate Scotland – the public body that manages leasing of Scotland’s seabed – also confirmed it remains on track to fully launch in October 2019. At this point, final documentation will be made available.
Crown Estate Scotland said it is important to note that the documents made available on 31 July will be finalised at the October launch and therefore should not be treated as final documents.
Crown Estate head of energy and infrastructure John Robertson said the new information was an important step towards an offshore wind leasing process that will attract investment to Scotland to help reduce climate change emissions and enable wider socio-economic benefits for communities. “By providing this information now, we will enable developers to start their preparations so they are in a position to submit suitable applications when the time comes,” he said.
The final timings for ScotWind Leasing are linked to the development of Marine Scotland’s Sectoral Marine Plan for Offshore Wind. The scale of ScotWind Leasing has been designed to cater for multiple GW projects, within the framework set by the Sectoral Marine Plan. ScotWind Leasing will be launched once the draft Sectoral Marine Plan information is available.
Applicants may select application areas within the draft Sectoral Marine Plan, subject to some rules and limits. Crown Estate Scotland stipulates that applications must be for offshore wind projects of a scale and nature which is compatible with the Sectoral Marine Plan, but it does not have specific requirements about the type of technology to be deployed. That would seem to open the door to floating wind projects in addition to conventional bottom-fixed windfarms, if developers feel that floating is in a position to compete with bottom-fixed.
Selection is initially by multiple criteria – including capabilities, experience and financial resources – chosen to establish the likelihood of a project proceeding successfully. These are assessed to determine whether a minimum required standard is met, and if there is competing interest for seabed, to resolve that competing interest.
At the moment the indicative dates for the various steps of leasing are unchanged from those issued in April 2019: ScotWind Leasing launch October 2019; registrations, November 2019; deadline for ScotWind Leasing applications, between February 2020 and April 2020; decision taken on which applications are successful, between May 2020 and July 2020.
Crown Estate Scotland will publish an overview of anonymised questions received and answers supplied on its website by September 2019. It will also publish a further update on the timings for ScotWind Leasing launch by the end of September 2019.
Crown Estate Scotland first unveiled proposals to lease seabed to encourage a new generation of offshore wind projects in Scotland’s waters in May 2018. Since then, it has received high-quality feedback from offshore wind developers, local authorities, industry bodies and others.
Engagement with industry has been used to shape the design of the leasing process, and Crown Estate Scotland said it is confident that with this input and support ScotWind Leasing will be a success.