Innovative Energy Consultancy Ltd
Innovative Energy Consultancy Ltd

Floating wind farm plans

The coasts of Cornwall and Pembrokeshire could be used as the sites for floating windfarms after the crown estate published 5 ‘areas of search’ that will be narrowed into development plots to host wind power generation.

According to a report by The Guardian: Once the project development areas have been agreed, they will be offered to businesses through a tender process, which is due to be launched in mid-2023.

It’s thought the areas will achieve 4 4 gigawatts of power by 2035, fuelling almost 4m homes.

Offshore windfarms are typically built in the seabed close to the shore but the floating structures are erected on concrete and steel platforms anchored to the seabed. Because of the way they are designed, floating wind farms can be placed in deeper water where there is less objection from local people and stronger winds as well as less interference with fishing and bird life.

Announcing the identification of the 5 sites, the Crown Estate said:

“The leasing process will deliver enough new capacity to provide clean power for almost four million more homes, in support of the UK’s net zero target, as well as creating opportunities for significant new investment in jobs, skills, and infrastructure.”

“The proposals include:

  • A focus on two key project categories – early-commercial scale projects (of circa 300-350MW); and full-commercial scale projects (of up to 1GW).
  • Leasing designed at a pace and scale to support supply chain and infrastructure development, helping to underpin a sustainable future for the sector, and ensure Wales, the South West, and the wider UK benefit from the industrial opportunity.
  • A revised approach to spatial design and Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA), which will see The Crown Estate conduct an integrated spatial design and Plan-Level HRA ahead of market tender, to identify key environmental issues at the earliest opportunity, helping to de-risk investment, minimise environmental risk, and streamline the overall programme.
  • Work with Electricity System Operator and others to support a coordinated grid solution for floating wind projects, in line with the work underway through the Offshore Transmission Network Review, to accelerate grid development and mitigate impacts on communities onshore.

“The proposals reflect The Crown Estate’s evolving approach to leasing offshore, which is designed to help address the strategic challenges facing renewable energy projects in our increasingly complex marine environment. These include the need to mitigate cumulative pressures on coastal and marine habitats, deliver socio-economic benefits for communities, while minimising the impact of infrastructure, and improve coordination with other industries and activities at sea.”

The leasing process could see rights awarded by the end of 2023, with projects delivered from 2030 into the early part of the next decade.

The Crown Estate has awarded licenses for six offshore windfarms for England & Wales that could generate up to £9bn over the next 10 years.

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