November 7 (Renewables Now) - The Crown Estate, the manager of the UK seabed, said today it will consider making new seabed rights available for offshore wind projects as the UK is preparing to build more capacity.
"Our Clean Growth Strategy sets out that the UK could support another 10GW of offshore wind in the 2020s, with the opportunity for more if it’s cost effective," said Energy Minister Richard Harrington. "This announcement today is an important step towards these future projects," Harrington added.
The Crown Estate's move follows the recent contracts for difference (CfD) auction, which backed 3.2 GW of offshore wind capacity at significantly lower prices compared to the previous auction in 2015, reaching GBP 57.50 (USD 75.6/EUR 65.4) per MWh. It also follows an announcement by the government, as part of its Clean Growth Strategy, that it will provide GBP 557 million for future auctions.
"With costs continuing to come down at a pace and Government looking at further opportunities for additional offshore wind deployment in the 2020s, it is the right time to consider what additional seabed rights may be needed to help secure the UK’s clean energy future," said Huub den Rooijen, director of energy, minerals and infrastructure at The Crown Estate.
The Crown Estate, which manages the seabed around England, Wales and Northern Ireland, said it will work with the offshore wind sector and stakeholders during 2018 to shape the potential new leasing activity. "This will consider the scale, form and location of new rights to enable sustainable deployment to 2030 and beyond," said Will Apps, head of energy development.
The body will release more details on the process in early 2018.
Crown Estate Scotland also said it will start preparations for potential new offshore wind leasing "with a view to ensuring new projects can start to operate from the late 2020s and beyond." It noted that the proposed leasing could lead to the construction of more commercial-scale floating or fixed offshore wind farms. Scotland currently has 211 MW of offshore wind in operation and 680 MW in construction.
According to data from RenewableUK, the UK has 5,385.52 MW of installed offshore wind farms.
(GBP 1 = USD 1.315/EUR 1.137)