300 MW of floating wind demonstration projects have been given the go-ahead to progress to the next stage of The Crown Estate’s support programme
New floating wind technology in the UK has taken an important step forward with the announcement that 300 MW of new projects, identified through The Crown Estate’s test and demonstration leasing opportunity, have been given the green light to progress to the next stage of assessment.
The three projects, each located in the Celtic Sea, have satisfied the initial application criteria set out by The Crown Estate, demonstrating technical competence, delivery capability and technological innovation.
The next stage will see the projects subject to plan-level Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) to examine possible impacts on protected marine habitats. Subject to the outcome of this assessment, the applicants could then be granted seabed agreements for lease.
The three projects are the 100-MW Whitecross project, located off the coast of Devon and Cornwall, brought forward by Offshore Wind Limited, a joint venture between Cobra Instalaciones y Servicios and Flotation Energy plc; and the Llŷr 1 and Llŷr 2 projects, comprising two separate 100-MW sites, each testing different technologies, off the Welsh coast, brought forward by Floventis Energy Limited, a joint venture between SBM Offshore and Cierco Ltd.
The projects have all come forward through The Crown Estate’s test and demonstration leasing opportunity, which is designed to support the development and commercialisation of innovative energy technologies that will be vital to the UK’s future energy system and net-zero transition.
The three projects would each test new foundation and mooring technologies, using new designs, materials and construction approaches. They could play an important role in supporting the development and momentum of the regional supply chain, helping support new jobs, skills and economic growth.
Subject to HRA, the three projects, together with the wider UK pipeline and any potential floating wind capacity identified through the ongoing ScotWind leasing process, could play an important role in supporting the government’s target to deliver 1 GW of floating wind capacity in UK waters by 2030.
Together with Blue Gem’s Erebus project and TwinHub’s project at the WaveHub site, they could quadruple the capacity of the floating wind pipeline in the Celtic Sea alone, to over 400 MW.
To put this in context, approximately 130 MW of floating wind is currently installed globally.
The Crown Estate managing director marine Huub den Rooijen said, “Innovative projects like these represent a vital step towards the UK’s ambitions to develop floating wind at a commercial scale. Not only do they help support the commercialisation of the market while bringing down costs, they are the key to testing new designs, materials and construction methods while creating new opportunities for the regional supply chain. This sort of new technology will have an important role to play as the UK transitions to Net Zero, helping unlock new energy capacity, while potentially helping to reduce the impact on the marine environment.”
To further support the development of the floating offshore wind sector beyond test and demonstration scale, The Crown Estate is also continuing work, announced in March 2021, to design a new leasing opportunity for early commercial-scale floating wind projects in the Celtic Sea. This will focus on projects of circa 300 MW each in scale – up to three times larger than any rights previously awarded to floating wind projects in the UK – further advancing the government’s ambition to deliver 1 GW of floating wind by 2030.
As part of this work, The Crown Estate will continue to collaborate closely with industry, government, environmental and other stakeholders. The programme will include a comprehensive spatial characterisation of the Celtic Sea, being sensitive to the marine environment and other users of the sea. The Crown Estate will also consider opportunities to reduce onshore impacts and maximise economic and social value for local communities.
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