Crown Estate Drafts Leasing Plan to Unlock 4 GW of Floating Wind Capacity in Celtic Sea

The Crown Estate has developed proposals for floating wind seabed leasing in the Celtic Sea which could unlock up to 4 GW of new floating wind capacity in England and Wales, providing further detail on its plans for a leasing process that could see rights awarded by the end of 2023.

Illustration; Kincardine floating wind farm. Source: Statkraft/KOWL

The projects selected through the leasing process would be delivered from 2030 into the early part of the next decade, and could deliver enough new capacity to provide clean power for almost four million more homes.

The proposals, published on 11 November, follow engagement with government, stakeholders and the market, and include a focus on two key project categories: early-commercial scale projects of around 300-350 MW and full-commercial scale projects of up to 1 GW.

Leasing would be designed at a pace and scale to support supply chain and infrastructure development. This would ensure Wales, the South West, and the wider UK could benefit from the industrial opportunity, according to the Crown Estate.

Furthermore, the UK’s seabed manager proposes 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.

To ensure a coordinated approach to assessing potential environmental impacts, the Llŷr and Whitecross test and demonstration scale projects, announced earlier this year, will form part of the Plan-Level HRA for floating wind in the Celtic Sea. 

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The proposals also include 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 Crown Estate will now begin the next stages of its engagement with market and stakeholders on the floating wind programme, which will take place in two phases over the winter of 2021/22.

Phase one will focus on the spatial design, gathering data and evidence to help inform the location of project sites, while the second phase will invite views on the design of the market tender and the wider considerations of the programme, including on supply chain, ports and grid, as well as community benefits, such as skills and employment.