The Crown Estate in the UK has provided an update on its plans for a new round of offshore wind leasing, to be known as Round 4.
Summarising the feedback it has received from developers since its November engagement events, The Crown Estate said it was now able to confirm how the process will be taken forward in an updated tender design. It has also shared a series of refinements and clarifications on its draft proposals for Round 4, reflecting the comments received.
It confirmed that in response to market feedback, it is now exploring alternative options for the commercial assessment phase at invitation to tender to introduce greater transparency for bidders and help inform their decisions on project location and option fee bid price.
The Crown Estate will share a further market update once it has completed the work required to develop and stress-test this new element of the tender design, ensuring that market participants have sufficient time to finalise their bidding strategy, once final tender parameters have been confirmed.
Ongoing stakeholder engagement is continuing in parallel with this work as part of the plan-level Habitats Regulations Assessments (HRA) on 2017 Extensions and 2018/19 marine aggregates licencing. The feedback received will help to inform the final refinement of seabed regions coming forward for Round 4.
To allow sufficient time for these activities, The Crown Estate has confirmed the Round 4 launch will not take place until Q3 2019.
The update, presented to developers via a webinar, will be available to watch in full on The Crown Estate website shortly.
Other key updates shared during the session include introducing a new tender requirement to ensure that projects are awarded across a minimum of three seabed regions, to help facilitate greater geographic diversity of the pipeline.
A further refinement to its proposals addresses the number of project bids per bidder, to provide the option to bid for up to five variations of site boundaries, anchored at each of five locations, totalling a maximum of 25 possible site options.
There will also be an increase to lease terms, in line with market support for this approach, from 50, to 60 years, sufficient for two project cycles.
During the update, The Crown Estate also provided clarification on further elements such as prequalification requirements and project shape/density requirements. A detailed overview of each of these is provided on the webinar recording.
The Crown Estate business development manager Jonny Boston said, “The latest refinements to Round 4 come as a direct result of listening closely to the hugely valuable feedback we’ve received, supporting our ongoing work to meet the needs of an ambitious wind energy market, while balancing a wide range of other interests in the marine environment.
“While the additional work we are committing to at this stage requires us to revise our timescales for the launch of Round 4, we are confident that developers and stakeholders will value the time we are investing now to address their feedback, ensuring our final designs offer a robust and attractive proposition, supporting the continued growth of the UK’s world-leading offshore wind sector.”
The Crown Estate intends to provide a further update ahead of Round 4 being formally launched later this year.