Offshore Wind: Cautious encouragement from the Crown Estate

 

Cautious encouragement from the Crown Estate

It was with a sense of anticipation that I ventured South of the river for an offshore wind industry seminar hosted by The Crown Estate yesterday. The atmosphere in the London City Glazier’s Hall was equally expectant with 100 plus industry insiders eagerly awaiting the messages from the

Earlier this week the offshore wind industry was heartened by Energy Minister Claire Perry’s announcement of ongoing support and this dovetailed nicely with the event. The Crown Estate is now devolved and this was London’s potential offer.

The key points:

• Potential leasing rounds will be evidence driven
• Some de-risking has already taken place
• Statutory stakeholders are already engaged
• Sites will be aligned with 18 marine areas – but the redline boundary will be defined by each developer to allow project optimisation
• Sufficient seabed at 5-50m water depth is to be made available for around 6GW
• There is an aspiration for the UK to be an anchor of the world offshore wind market
• This expansion will enable supply chain and developers to plan
• UK manufacturing and involvement a factor

Consenting issues include:

• Environmental, especially around Habitat Regulations Assessment (HRA)
• Cumulative impact
• Innovation and foundations

Industry questions reflected an increased appetite for development; some surprise at the 5-50m selection criteria and a feeling that further seabed could have been made available at this stage. Concern was expressed that these sea depth limitations would effectively exclude some of the floating technologies; for example Hywind which needs nearly double that depth and is already performing remarkably well in UK waters.

So, signals of cautious encouragement, especially for fixed foundation developments and one which may possibly allow The Crown Estate’s Edinburgh sibling to reap the ‘floating’ prize which surely awaits.