The UK’s offshore wind development pipeline has reached another milestone with The Crown Estate confirming the award of agreements for lease (AfL) to a total of six proposed offshore wind project extensions in the waters around England and Wales.
The projects, which together have the potential to deliver 2.8 GW of new capacity, are coming forward as part of The Crown Estate’s 2017 Offshore Wind Extensions opportunity – which aims to unlock additional capacity in the UK offshore wind portfolio in an efficient way, by extending existing offshore windfarms.
AfL for extensions have been awarded to the Sheringham Shoal, Dudgeon, Greater Gabbard (North Falls), Galloper (Five Estuaries), Rampion (Rampion 2) and Gwynt y Môr (Awel y Môr) offshore windfarms.
The AfLs have been awarded over the past several months and include some already announced by individual developers. The extension to Rampion offshore windfarm at the end of September 2020 marked the final agreement to be awarded as part of the 2017 Extensions opportunity.
On 2 June 2020, UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Alok Sharma rejected an application for a development consent order submitted by Vattenfall to extend the Thanet offshore windfarm.
Each of the proposals has already progressed through the plan level Habitats Regulations Assessment stage (HRA), which assesses the possible impact of the proposed windfarm extensions on relevant nature conservation sites of European importance.
Developers will now be focussed on environmental assessments and surveys, before seeking planning consent through the statutory planning process and securing connections to the grid. Relationships established with stakeholders and local communities as a consequence of their existing projects will be key during this activity.
The 2017 Extensions opportunity is part of a wider Crown Estate programme to strengthen the UK’s offshore wind pipeline, supporting the UK’s transition to net zero by 2050. This includes the live Offshore Wind Leasing Round 4, which aims to create the opportunity for at least 7 GW of new capacity around England and Wales.
Combined with the existing portfolio of projects already in operation, construction and planning, these actions will take the UK pipeline to in excess of 40 GW.
The Crown Estate head of energy development Will Apps said, “Reaching this stage marks an important milestone in the UK portfolio, demonstrating strong market appetite and further strengthening the UK offshore wind pipeline.
“Extensions projects offer a valuable way of enabling new, low cost offshore wind capacity, making efficient use of our world-class seabed resources and building on developers’ existing project knowledge and infrastructure.
“Each project has the potential to play a vital role in supporting the nation’s clean energy transition and we look forward to following their progress as they move through the planning process.”