Further steps taken on the long journey to open up seabed for MORE offshore wind

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 8 Feb 2018

THE Crown Estate has presented an update on potential new offshore wind leasing to senior government and industry figures.

It follows the announcement in November that it would be considering a process for awarding new seabed rights in the waters off England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The presentation, outlined The Crown Estate’s early thinking in relation to the leasing model design as well as a process of engagement with the sector, stakeholders and other interested parties over the summer. 

The feedback from this will form part of the decision-making process, which would potentially open up a further jobs bonanza. 

If new leasing is confirmed, a formal process could commence in late 2018 or early 2019, it said. The final stage of the current allotted zones, known as Round Three, is now starting to be built out, with Hornsea Project One getting underway last month. 

No locations have yet been considered, although the Humber was raised in questions, but it has been widely recognised that the North Sea offers the biggest opportunities, with the 'Energy Estuary' ideally placed and with a decade of experience already built up. 

AS WE STAND: How the Humber's offshore wind offer is shaping up.

In 2016, Huub den Rooijen, director of energy, minerals and infrastructure at The Crown Estate, described Grimsby as the poster child for the sector’s industrialisation, and stated that from the town’s perspective, “it is a stroke of good fortune that you are sitting next to some of the best real estate in the world in regard to offshore wind”. 

As a result of the potential for new offshore wind leasing, The Crown Estate has also announced that it will no longer be accepting applications for offshore wind farm extensions after May 31, 2018, having opened up the opportunity a year ago. A statement said this is to “help pave the way for a single and comprehensive route for awarding new seabed rights and avoid potentially having two processes running concurrently”.

It has also acknowledged “the seabed is an important natural resource that already supports a wide range of interests,” and that factors to be balanced include healthy competition, meeting market demands, other seabed users, stakeholder resources, environmental impacts and the efficiency of leasing processes.

The statement continued: “The Crown Estate is currently considering how best to identify potential areas for leasing and has started engagement with statutory marine planning authorities.

MORE: Work begins on Hornsea Project One offshore wind farm

“We are exploring a leasing model where developers identify sites within pre-defined, but relatively wide regions of seabed.

“We are characterising these regions by considering a number of factors, including favourable technical resource area for fixed offshore wind; marine plan areas and policies; and deliverability, including consents, grid constraints and existing rights and activities.

“Our analysis to date is focussed on fixed offshore wind as we anticipate that this will deliver the most competitive projects within the current policy context and therefore be the focus of market demand.

“We are also considering the tender process and key commercial terms for the leasing offer.”

This summer it intends to host information days with interested market participants and workshops with statutory stakeholders, followed by wider stakeholder engagement.

“The feedback from this engagement will be considered in our determination of the potential for, and the approach to, new leasing,” it said.

“If we conclude that it is appropriate to do so, a formal process could commence in late 2018, into 2019.”

MORE: Major Humber offshore wind conference is open for bookings  

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