The Crown Estate has set out how developers will be required to consider the role of ports and driving social value in Wales and the South West as it prepares for an auction round for floating offshore wind later this year.
The UK government and Crown Estate are also aiming to de-risk projects by addressing spatial constraints, supporting demonstration projects, investing in pre-consent surveys and carrying out environmental assessments and grid design.
Engagement with local government and stakeholders found that the area under consideration was subject to a number of competing demands requiring further work to resolve spatial considerations and policy drivers.
This work has led the Crown Estate to adapt its approach to focus on the delivery of 4GW of floating offshore wind in four project sites in two of the areas shortlisted in October 2022.
The sites’ proximity to the shore and reduced grid connection complexity means that the sites should be an attractive investment opportunity for developers. The tender structure for the sites will also help deliver economic and social benefits to the local area through investment in jobs, skills and infrastructure.
Today we published of our proposed locations for new #FloatingOffshoreWind in the #CelticSea 🌊. With up to 4GW of capacity across four sites, that’s enough clean, #RenewableEnergy ⚡️to power around 4 million homes🏠. https://t.co/RxHo570657 pic.twitter.com/J5hJoffHAY— The Crown Estate (@TheCrownEstate) July 4, 2023
Bidders will be required to lay out how they will reflect the important role of ports in the assembly and deployment of floating offshore wind, particularly integration ports which can store the numerous components required to deploy floating offshore wind.
Developers will also be required to set out how they will create lasting social and environmental value as part of the UK government’s social value model (SVM) which focuses on education, the environment and communities.
The Crown Estate say they have modified the auction process to increase transparency for developers, taking into account stakeholder feedback and helping to reduce risk for bidders.
The Crown Estate has also set out changes to the auction design to increase transparency and offer developers the opportunity to set the most appropriate prices. These changes take into account a range of considerations and stakeholder feedback, and include steps to help share and reduce the risks when developing new technology in a new location.
For example, rather than bidders submitting their final offer immediately to stand a chance of winning, The Crown Estate will adopt a ‘rising clock’ auction, which will see pricing movements published during the different rounds, allowing greater transparency for developers over whether other parties are still bidding for certain locations.
Gus Jaspert, managing director for marine at the Crown Estate, said: “This initial phase of up to 4GW of floating wind in the Celtic Sea has the potential to be among the world’s largest developments of its kind, and we are excited by the opportunity to bring social value to the fore while helping to power the country with clean electricity and stimulate growth and investment.”
“It is also clear that there is a complex mix of competing demands on the seabed in the Celtic Sea, and we are supporting the UK Government as it works to resolve these. As managers of the seabed around England, Wales and Northern Ireland, we are able to work across the full range of users of the seabed to identify issues such as these, meaning we can take steps to help de-risk projects and secure a pathway to their delivery.”
Jessica Hooper, RenewableUK Cymru Director, said: “This latest update by The Crown Estate lays solid foundations for the first positive steps to deliver trailblazing projects at scale and pace. We welcome the focus on driving social value, supporting the critical role of ports and increasing transparency through the auction process.”
To truly capture the thousands of jobs and supply chain opportunities on offer, we must have a clear line of sight of a future leasing round beyond 4GW as soon as possible,” Hooper added.
The Crown Estate is working to accelerate and de-risk the deployment of floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea by undertaking a series of technical and environmental surveys of the sea bed over this summer. The corporation says it is also working with National Grid ESO to ensure coordination of grid connection plans.