April 6 (Renewables Now) - The Crown Estate has officially launched the Invitation to Tender (ITT) Stage 1 for the fourth round of the offshore wind leasing competition in the UK that seeks to award between 7 GW and 8.5 GW of new seabed rights.
As previously announced, the submission window was extended from seven to 10 weeks in order to give interested parties more time to respond during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of the ITT Stage 1, projects submitted by pre-qualified bidders will be assessed to determined their financial and technical robustness. Those that pass will then be eligible to participate in the ITT Stage 2, during which a single project will be awarded per daily bidding cycle. This will continue until at least 7 GW has been awarded.
Round 4 of the competition is expected to award seabed rights for wind projects across four Seabed Bidding Areas off the coasts of England and Wales, namely “Dogger Bank”, “Eastern Regions”, “South East”, and “Northern Wales and Irish Sea.”
According to an information memorandum that can be found here (https://www.thecrownestate.co.uk/media/3321/tce-r4-information-memorandum.pdf), no more than 3.5 GW can be awarded in a single bidding area and there is also a maximum individual project size per area -- 1.5 GW. Three of the four bidding areas will have a minimum individual project size of 400 MW, Dogger Bank being the exception with a 600-MW minimum. The maximum possible number of projects is 18.
The document notes that if the 7-GW threshold is met with exactly 3.5 GW in each of two bidding areas, there will be one additional bidding cycle to award a further project in a third zone.