Wind energy – floating wind
New floating wind technology in the UK has taken an important step forward with the announcement that 300MW of new projects, identified through The Crown Estate’s Test and Demonstration leasing opportunity, have been given the green light to progress to the next stage of assessment.
The three projects, each located in the Celtic Sea, have satisfied the initial application criteria set out by The Crown Estate, demonstrating technical competence, delivery capability and technological innovation.
The next stage will see the projects subject to plan-level Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) to assess possible impacts on protected marine habitats. Subject to the outcome of this assessment, the applicants could then be granted seabed agreements for lease.
The three projects are:
The 100MW Whitecross project, located off the coast of Devon and Cornwall. Brought forward by Offshore Wind Limited, a Joint Venture between Cobra Instalaciones y Servicios and Flotation Energy.
The Llŷr 1 and Llŷr 2 projects, comprising two separate 100MW sites, each testing different technologies, located south of Pembroke, on the Welsh coast. Brought forward by Floventis Energy, a newly established joint venture between SBM Offshore and Cierco.
The projects have all come forward through The Crown Estate’s Test & Demonstration leasing opportunity – designed to support the development and commercialisation of innovative energy technologies that will be vital to the UK’s future energy system and Net Zero transition.
The three projects would each test new foundation and mooring technologies, using new designs, materials and construction approaches. They also could play an important role in supporting the development and momentum of the regional supply chain, helping support new jobs, skills and economic growth.
Subject to HRA, these three new projects, together with the wider UK pipeline and any potential floating wind capacity identified through the ongoing Scotwind leasing process, could play an important role in supporting the Government’s target to deliver 1GW of floating wind capacity in UK waters by 2030.
Together with Blue Gem’s Erebus project and TwinHub’s project at the WaveHub site, they could quadruple the capacity of the floating wind pipeline in the Celtic Sea alone, to over 400MW. To put this in context, a total of approximately 130MW of floating wind is currently installed globally.
Huub den Rooijen, Managing Director of The Crown Estate’s Marine portfolio said: “Innovative projects like these represent a vital step towards the UK’s ambitions to develop floating wind at a commercial scale. Not only do they help support the commercialisation of the market while bringing down costs, they are key to testing new designs, materials and construction methods while creating new opportunities for the regional supply chain. “This sort of new technology will have an important role to play as the UK transitions to Net Zero, helping unlock new energy capacity, while potentially helping to reduce the impact on the marine environment.”
Severine Baudic, SBM Offshore New Energies and Services Managing Director commented: “We are very proud of this first key milestone achieved with Cierco through our joint venture Floventis Energy. Our partnership will benefit from the combined expertise of Cierco in project development and SBM Offshore in floating offshore projects. Together, we have the ambition to stimulate and accelerate the floating wind market while building track-record and local presence.”
Mikael Jakobsson, Chairman of Cierco, added: “We are very honored to reach this first milestone for Floventis Energy, which materializes the strong partnership we established with SBM Offshore with the objective to develop responsible and sustainable floating wind projects maximizing benefits to the local communities.”
A spokesperson for Offshore Wind Limited: “We are excited to be moving forward with White Cross, our floating wind test & demonstration project off the coast of Devon and Cornwall. It gives us a great opportunity to test new floating foundations and to prepare for commercial deployment of the technology across the UK”.
RenewableUK’s Director of Future Electricity Systems Barnaby Wharton said: “Projects like these have the potential to build on the success of our world-leading floating wind farms already generating in Scottish waters. They can stimulate further investment in the UK supply chain for floating wind, manufacturing state-of-the-art technology not only for projects here but also for the global market which is expected to be worth at least £230m a year by 2031 to UK exporters. And the more floating wind we install in British waters, the cheaper it will become; this innovative technology can repeat the success of fixed-foundation offshore wind by becoming subsidy-free within a decade.”
To further support the development of the floating offshore wind sector beyond Test & Demonstration scale, The Crown Estate is also continuing its work (announced in March) to design a new leasing opportunity for early commercial-scale floating wind projects in the Celtic Sea. This will focus on projects of circa 300MW each in scale – up to 3 times larger than any rights previously awarded to floating wind projects in the UK – further advancing the Government’s ambition to deliver 1GW of floating wind by 2030.
As part of this work, The Crown Estate will continue to collaborate closely with industry, government, environmental and other stakeholders. The programme will include a comprehensive spatial characterisation of the Celtic Sea, being sensitive to the marine environment and other users of the sea. The Crown Estate will also consider opportunities to reduce onshore impacts, and maximise economic and social value for local communities.