Following the culmination of its Offshore Wind Leasing Round 4, The Crown Estate has signed Agreements for Lease for six offshore wind projects with the potential to generate approximately 8GW of renewable energy.
Three of the projects are located off the North Wales, Cumbria and Lancashire coast, whilst the remaining three will be based off the Yorkshire and Lincolnshire coast in the North Sea.
The addition of the six projects means that the property management company has awarded rights totalling 41GW – almost 12GW of which is operational – since its first leasing round in 2001.
“Today’s announcement is an important step forward – not just to deliver sustainable future sources of energy but also for the Welsh economy and communities,” said the Welsh government’s minister for climate change, Julie James.
“We are determined to make the most of opportunities afforded by the urgent need to scale up renewable energy generation to transition away from fossil fuels and believe offshore wind will play a major role in the future energy system in Wales.”
Following the Offshore Wind Leasing Round 4 plan-level Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA), The Crown Estate will begin a programme overseeing strategic environmental compensation plans for two protected sites – the Dogger Bank Special Area of Conservation as well as the Flamborough and Filey Coast Special Protection Area.
By establishing a Steering Group of government and statutory nature conservation bodies alongside relevant project developers for each site, The Crown Estate said that it will ensure the delivery of its commitments under the HRA.
“Today marks a significant milestone for the UK on the road to net zero, unlocking green energy potential for more than seven million homes and demonstrating to the world that the UK offshore wind industry is growing at pace to help meet the climate challenge,” said Gus Jaspert, managing director, Marine, at The Crown Estate.
The Crown Estate has a number of different projects and incentives supporting the uptake of offshore wind in the UK. This includes the Offshore Wind Evidence and Change programme, which was formed by The Crown Estate to convene government bodies and key stakeholders to provide relevant data and evidence to bolster the growth of the UK’s offshore wind market.
To increase the number of green energy jobs, The Crown Estate is contributing to the Floating Offshore Wind Task Force in partnership with RenewableUK.
The independent business – which was created by act of parliament – also aspires to deliver 4GW of offshore wind energy capacity in the Celtic Sea by 2035.
In November 2022, Equinor expressed its interest in developing a gigawatt-scale floating offshore wind farm in the Celtic Sea through The Crown Estate’s 2023 seabed leasing round.
Through the Agreements for Lease, The Crown Estate can receive an annual option fee from project developers until they can enter into a lease for the seabed. The option fee, determined by the project developers through an open market process, will contribute to The Crown Estate’s net revenue profit, 100% of which is paid to the HM Treasury.
The total commitment across the six new projects, The Crown Estate confirmed, is approximately £1 billion per annum.
“This announcement represents a major step forward not just for these major offshore wind projects but also for the industry as a whole, as these lease agreements will strengthen our energy security, create jobs and support development of new UK supply chains,” said RenewableUK’s CEO Dan McGrail.
“It demonstrates the continuing ability of the UK to attract billions of pounds in private investment due to the maturity of our world-class offshore wind market, which is enabling the redevelopment and regeneration of all areas of the UK, especially in coastal communities which need levelling up. Offshore wind is playing the leading role in the UK’s transition to clean power, becoming the backbone of our future energy system, and helping us to reach net zero as fast as possible.”