September 19 (Renewables Now) - The Crown Estate today kicked off the UK’s Offshore Wind Leasing Round 4, seen to award at least 7 GW of new seabed rights for wind projects off the coasts of England and Wales.
The entity which manages the seabed around England, Wales and Northern Ireland is making available four Seabed Bidding Areas with water depths of up to 60 metres -- Dogger Bank, Eastern Regions, South East, and Northern Wales and Irish Sea. Competent bidders will be allowed to identify and propose their own project sites within these areas, with up to 3.5 GW allowed for any single area, The Crown Estate noted.
In this round, the lease term is extended to 60 years from 50 years, reflecting the maturity of the technology. The process encourages Round 4 developers to incorporate technological innovations within their projects and propose hybrid schemes.
The tender process will be initiated next month and will take about 12 months to complete. It will be followed by a Plan-level Habitats Regulations Appraisal (HRA) of an approximately equivalent period, which should lead to the award of the new seabed rights as early as 2021. Developers will then seek planning consent for their own projects, with the goal of entering commercial operation by the late 2020s.
At present, the UK has 9.3 GW of offshore wind power generating capacity in operation and a further 4.4 GW under construction. The existing development pipeline includes an additional 20 GW of projects that are either consented, in planning or in pre-planning. Together with 2.8 GW of offshore wind extensions that passed the HRA phase in August, the UK is looking at more than 30 GW of capacity by 2030.