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UK Plans First Commercial-Scale Deployment of Floating Wind in Celtic Sea

floating offshore wind farm
UK looks to launch the first commercial-scale floating wind farms in the Celtic Sea (Crown Estate)

Published Dec 7, 2023 9:38 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

The UK is set to start the next phase of its development of offshore wind energy power generation looking to launch the first commercial-scale development of a floating offshore wind farm. Known as Round 5, The Crown Estate will start the leasing process in early 2024.

The industry stands at a crossroads in the UK. After having been an early developer and today having almost half as much operational capacity as the rest of Europe combined, they look to open up floating wind as the next phase of the industry’s development. The Crown Estate which manages which manages the seabed around England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, released further details today, December 7, for the leasing round for three commercial-scale floating wind projects in the Celtic Sea off the coast of South Wales and South West England. 

They highlight that floating wind technology has the potential to open new areas of the seabed for wind power generation. The anchoring technology they highlight will permit wind farms to move to areas of greater depth, further from shore, where wind patterns are stronger and more reliable versus the existing fixed-base turbines. 

"Floating offshore wind is a huge opportunity for Wales and the South West, with the potential to deliver billions of pounds of direct investment whilst bolstering our energy independence and net zero ambitions,” said Graham Stuart, the UK’s Minister of State for Energy Security and Net Zero. “Today's plans will build on the Government’s ambition to deploy up to 5GW of floating offshore wind by 2030.”

The first three wind farms planned for the Celtic Sea will have a combined capacity of up to 4.5 GW and are expected to be the first phase of commercial development in the region. The UK government declared its intention in 2023 to unlock space for up to a further 12GW of capacity in the Celtic Sea. By the 2030s, they predict the Celtic Sea could be providing 16 GW of renewable energy.

The Crown Estate notes that its goal is to support the development of the industry while creating the best value for the nation. They reported that the Round 5 program will adopt further changes to support the industry by enabling upfront investment in important workstreams to de-risk the process for developers. This will include investments in marine surveys to better understand the physical and environmental properties around the locations of the new wind farms. The Crown Estate has also outlined its intention to bring forward a new pilot fund to help accelerate supply chain projects.

The process for Round 5 will begin in early 2024 with pre-qualification questionnaires and an informational session on January 31 for prospective bidders to learn more details of the Round 5 tender.