Crown Estate Launches Leasing Rounds for Projects in Northern Ireland Waters

The Crown Estate has today, 15 December 2011, launched offshore wind and tidal stream leasing rounds to select developers to take forward up to 800MW of projects in Northern Ireland waters, marking a major step forward in the growth of Northern Ireland’s offshore renewable energy industry.

This follows The Crown Estate engaging with industry earlier this year, confirming market demand in two locations for development, which is now the focus of the leasing rounds:

The Offshore Wind Area, off the south east coast of County Down, will be leased to a single development company to deliver up to 600MW of generating capacity

The Rathlin Island and Torr Head Strategic Area, a single tidal stream area of up to 200MW capacity. Sites will be leased to developers for delivery of multiple projects and applications will be invited for projects of a range of sizes up to 100MW.

Separate competitive tendering processes will be undertaken for the offshore wind and tidal projects, which will be run in parallel. Tenders will be assessed on bidders’ ability deliver fully operational projects by 2020 and a successful conclusion of the leasing rounds would see development rights awarded in the second half of 2012.

The leasing rounds seek to capitalise on the Northern Ireland’s marine renewable energy resources to help deliver the Northern Ireland Executive’s target to significantly increase the amount of electricity consumption from renewable sources to 40 per cent by 2020. Today’s announcement builds on the extensive and ongoing work by the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment (DETI) to drive forward the offshore renewable energy industry in Northern Ireland waters, which has included the preparation of a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of potential locations for development.

Northern Ireland Energy Minister Arlene Foster said: “The interest to date in Northern Ireland waters is very encouraging and this announcement today by The Crown Estate presents the offshore wind and tidal sectors with an excellent opportunity. Northern Ireland offers a strong but accessible offshore resource, world class research facilities at our Universities, a strong engineering tradition and an excellent port infrastructure. The development of offshore renewable energy provides not only greater energy security and diversity but significant economic and employment benefits. The recent announcement by DONG Energy at Belfast Harbour confirms that Northern Ireland has what it takes for offshore renewable energy development.

Rob Hastings, The Crown Estate’s Marine Director said: “Our discussions with industry have highlighted demand for the leasing rounds, which represent another major step forward for the UK’s already world-leading offshore renewables industry. The energy infrastructure projects to be delivered will not only reap significant economic benefits for Northern Ireland, but will also further diversify the energy supply away from industrial sources to low carbon renewable energy .”

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Offshore Wind News , December 15, 2011

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