The Crown Estate has announced six proposed new offshore wind projects in the waters around England and Wales
The six Round 4 projects together represent just under 8 GW of potential new offshore wind capacity.
The projects and bidders that will progress to the next stage of Offshore Wind Leasing Round 4 include: RWE Renewables, which has been awarded two adjacent sites on Dogger Bank with a total potential capacity of 3 GW (2 x 1.5 GW); a 50/50 joint venture between Macquarie’s Green Investment Group and Total, which has secured rights to a seabed lease in the eastern regions zone off the UK’s East Anglian coast that could deliver up to 1.5 GW; a 50/50 partnership between EnBW and bp that has been awarded two large areas in the Irish Sea capable of generating 3.0 GW; and Offshore Wind Limited, a joint venture between Cobra Instalaciones y Servicios and Flotation Energy plc, which has been awarded a lease for a 480 MW site off the Lancashire coast in the Irish Sea.
Surprisingly, industry leaders including Ørsted, SSE and Equinor all lost out in the auction process. Flotation Energy specialises in floating wind, although it is also capable of developing bottom-fixed offshore wind.
bp chief executive Bernhard Looney said, “Two weeks ago we sealed a major offshore wind partnership in the US, and today we have success on this side of the pond.
“For the first time, in partnership with EnBW, bp will enter offshore wind in the UK, the world’s largest market.
“We love these leases as they’re close to shore and right next to each other, so we can use the same equipment. That means we can get them operational faster – we expect within seven years.
“Importantly, we are also confident that these leases will deliver – at a minimum – the 8-10% returns we demand of our renewables investments.”
Total senior vice president renewables Julien Pouget said, “Total is delighted to have been awarded 1.5 GW as part of the 4th Round of offshore wind leases from The Crown Estate.
“We continue to support the energy transition goals of the UK. This project is our largest renewables development in Europe to date and an important step toward our 2050 net zero ambition.
“This success builds on our historical expertise in the offshore industry in the UK and is paving the way for the expansion of our renewable energy offering in the country, in line with our strategy of becoming a broad energy company.”
The projects were selected through a competitive seabed tender process and will now progress to environmental assessment known as a Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA).
With 39 GW of offshore wind already in operation, construction and planning, projects emerging from Round 4 could deliver a 21% increase in the pipeline, a major contribution to supporting the UK Government’s target of delivering 40GW by 2030.
The Crown Estate chief executive Dan Labbad said, “Round 4 offers a major boost for the UK’s green economy and subject to environmental assessments, these projects have the potential to create new jobs and deliver green and affordable energy to millions more homes.
“With a net zero goal, some of the best offshore wind resources in the world, and clear commitment from Government and industry to continue investing in the low carbon economy, the UK stands ready to play its part in addressing the global climate crisis.
“The task now is to work together across the sector, to coordinate the development we need offshore, in a way which is sensitive to the importance of biodiversity in our precious marine environment and brings new employment opportunities and growth to a range of communities across country.”
UK Energy Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said, “The UK is a world leader in offshore wind energy, with the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan laying out a bold ambition to produce enough offshore wind to power every home in the UK.
“Energy delivered by the new offshore wind projects in The Crown Estate’s latest leasing round will help power seven million homes, driving forward our commitments to eliminate the UK’s contribution to carbon emissions by 2050, creating thousands of new jobs and ensuring Britain builds back greener.”
Lesley Griffiths, Welsh Government Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, said: “I am delighted to see an offshore wind project in the north Wales region progress to the next stage of The Crown Estate’s current offshore wind leasing auction round.”
Round 4 projects will now progress to the next stage of the process known as a Plan-Level HRA. This process assesses the potential impacts of Round 4 on the UK national network of protected areas covering its most valuable species and habitats. It is a legal requirement, which must be completed before The Crown Estate can award seabed rights and is an important step in helping to preserve the UK’s precious marine environment.
The HRA process is expected to conclude in early 2022. Subject to the outcome, developers would then be granted an Agreement for Lease by The Crown Estate and be able to progress projects through the planning process, in which stakeholders and local communities will have an opportunity to participate. The projects could begin to generate clean electricity by the end of the decade.