Natural England Appoints Opergy for Offshore Demonstration Site Study
Natural England, the English government’s adviser for the natural environment, has appointed Opergy, a Norwich-based clean energy consulting group, to lead a study that will look to determine the potential for establishing an offshore demonstration and testing site within England’s territorial waters.
Natural England said it is seeking to establish a recognised national testing area or areas where new and novel technologies could be trialed and monitored to establish potential environmental impact pathways.
Opergy will be tasked with assessing lessons learned and best practices from other operational demonstration sites in the UK, Europe, and around the world, exploring the market demand for such a demonstration site in English territorial waters through targeted engagement with bodies such as The Crown Estate and offshore developers, identifying the appropriate process for establishing a demonstration area in English waters, and finally, identifying the likely costs involved in establishing such a site, along with the governance considerations for its development and operation, as well as possible locations. It is set to report back in March 2023.
“A demonstration site for offshore wind in England could provide a vital testing ground to prove the concept of new and exciting components and solutions. It will allow the study of environmental impact pathways of offshore wind components and construction methods on a smaller pre-commercial scale providing regulators, statutory nature conservation bodies, academics, and developers evidence and confidence in levels of impact prior to rolling out of commercial scale applications, thereby supporting a more streamlined consenting process. The area could also be used by industry to test new mitigation measures for offshore projects with the potential to continue to reduce the impacts, risks, and costs of offshore wind energy,” Tamara Rowson, Senior Offshore Renewables Specialist at Natural England, said.
Other than the offshore renewables sector, the new testing ground/s could be used by sectors such as hydrogen production from offshore wind and oil and gas decarbonisation technologies, carbon capture, and aggregates.
As part of the project, Opergy said it will soon be launching a focused consultation, seeking insight from those in offshore industry sectors, to build a complete picture of the best way forwards.
“The UK is already home to one of the largest offshore wind markets in the world, which itself looks set to grow at a rapid pace over the coming years. With growing momentum behind floating wind in the Celtic Sea and hybrid projects too, there is little doubt to offshore energy landscape is going to get very busy in the years to come,” Johnathan Reynolds, Opergy Group Managing Director, said.
“While undoubtedly an exciting time, it also makes it all the more important that we have the fullest picture possible of what is possible and what isn’t moving forwards, which is why it is great to see Natural England proposing an approach such as this and is something that we were both delighted and feel well placed to help them with,” Reynolds continued.
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