Floating wind farms set to power more than 4 million homes
The Crown Estate has set out details for some of the biggest floating wind farms in the world.
New floating turbines are to be deployed on a commercial scale for the first time off the coast of the UK. The Crown Estate said the leasing process will be designed to drive broader social, economic and environmental value while supporting the UK’s net zero and energy security goals.
The organisation, which manages the seabed around England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, said the leasing for three commercial-scale floating wind projects in the Celtic Sea off the coast of South Wales and South West England have the potential to deliver enough clean, renewable energy for more than four million homes.
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The new wind farms will have a combined capacity of up to 4.5GW and are expected to be the first phase of commercial development in the region, with the UK Government confirming as part of its Autumn Statement in November 2023 its intention to unlock space for up to a further 12GW of capacity in the Celtic Sea.
This latest leasing programme will be known as Round 5, following four previous leasing rounds by The Crown Estate, which have helped establish the UK as one of the leading offshore wind markets in the world, with almost half as much operational capacity as the rest of Europe combined.
The Crown Estate has also outlined its intention to bring forward a new pilot fund to help accelerate supply chain projects, with an initial focus on opportunities arising from Round 5. Further details are expected to be set out in the first part of 2024.
Dan Labbad, chief executive of The Crown Estate said: “The UK’s offshore market is one of the most successful in the world and floating wind is the next chapter in this exciting story, backed up by recent support from UK Government to unlock further important capacity over the coming years.
“At its core, The Crown Estate’s role is to serve the country by using its land and seabed to create the best value we can for the nation and for future generations – including social, environmental and financial. This means drawing on the skills, knowledge and input from our full range of stakeholders as we seek to play our part in responding to some of the biggest challenges, whether that’s climate change, nature loss or enabling economic growth.
“This approach has underpinned the development of Round 5, which is the culmination of years of engagement across governments, environmental bodies, industry and other stakeholders. As the collaboration and partnerships that have brought us this far continue, this opportunity stands to be a game-changer for business and communities associated with these projects, as we realise the full potential of floating wind in the Celtic Sea and beyond.”
Minister of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, Graham Stuart added: “Floating offshore wind is a huge opportunity for Wales and the South West, with the potential to deliver billions of pounds of direct investment whilst bolstering our energy independence and net zero ambitions.
“Today’s plans will build on the Government’s ambition to deploy up to 5GW of floating offshore wind by 2030. Together with The Crown Estate I look forward to bringing more capacity online, through our plans to see up to 16GW deployed in the Celtic Sea through the 2030s.”
Jess Hooper, director of umbrella body for the renewables industry in Wales, RenewableUK Cymru said: “The upcoming Celtic Sea leasing round is the leading opportunity for Wales to kick start a burgeoning new industry, producing clean electricity, driving investment, delivering on Wales’ net zero targets and unlocking the first of thousands of jobs and opportunities for local people.
” Floating offshore wind is critical for Wales’ decarbonisation journey, and we are pleased to see this new level of detail from The Crown Estate around building the right foundations now to support a new green industrial legacy for decades to come.
“This round will unlock massive opportunities to stimulate Wales’ floating wind supply chain and to attract billions in investment in new infrastructure by transforming ports into renewable energy industrial hubs.
“The prospect of 4.5GW now and a commitment to a potential 12GW pipeline will transform Wales into a major lynchpin in the UK’s drive to net zero and gives Welsh businesses a clear pathway for green growth. Our recent report, the Critical Role of Welsh Wind Power, reveals that Wales needs to quadruple its deployment of wind power in just over a decade to meet the Welsh Government target of 100% electricity from renewable sources by 2035.
“The Celtic Sea represents the lion’s share of this new capacity, and provided we see an ambitious delivery plan that delivers at the scale and pace required, Wales stands poised to reap the benefits.”News Related