Crown Estate Boosts Celtic Sea Floating Offshore Wind Leasing Round to 4.5 GW

The Crown Estate has unveiled more details for Offshore Wind Leasing Round 5, saying it will offer three Project Development Areas (PDAs) to bidders instead of four, increasing the capacity from 4 GW to 4.5 GW.

Illustration; Hywind Scotland, world's first floating wind farm. Source: Øyvind Gravås / Woldcam / Equinor

Offshore Wind Leasing Round 5, expected to be the first phase of development in the Celtic Sea, aims to establish new floating offshore wind technology off the coast of Wales and South West England.

The latest update follows a period of engagement with developers and wider stakeholders on proposals set out in July over how to make the best use of available space in the Celtic Sea.

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Three PDAs of roughly equal size, each with a potential capacity of up to 1.5 GW, are expected to be made available to bidders, as opposed to the previously proposed four PDAs of varying sizes.

Therefore, the overall capacity available through Round 5 has increased from a possible 4 GW to up to 4.5 GW, enough to power more than four million homes.

The Crown Estate says that no bidder will be able to secure an agreement for a lease for more than one PDA.

An Information Memorandum is expected to be published before the end of this year ahead of the formal start of the leasing round, according to the UK seabed manager.

The Crown Estate said that it is seeking to de-risk developments to speed up the floating offshore wind deployment. This includes investing in an upfront Habitats Regulation Assessment, an extensive programme of marine surveys, and working with the Electricity System Operator on a coordinated approach to grid design.

The seabed manager also unveiled information on its multi-million-pound programme of marine surveys, designed to provide developers with data to help inform their decision-making and de-risk projects at an early stage, as well as support winning bidders through the consenting process.

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According to the Crown Estate, the latest phase of marine surveys started on 24 September and it will see aeroplanes gather data on the sea birds and marine mammals around the project sites and more widely in the Celtic Sea.

“Round 5 is set to be one of the biggest projects of its kind in the world, and will be a game changer for the UK’s energy security and net zero ambitions. It also stands to be transformative for communities across South Wales and South West England,” said Gus Jaspert, Managing Director Marine at the Crown Estate.

“Businesses and communities of all sizes stand to benefit from the opportunities on offer, but it will require ongoing collaboration to make these a reality.”


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