Ensuring that a floating wind build-out happens sooner rather than later remains a high priority for everyone in the sector. Moving at pace is undoubtedly key – but the preparation does have to be right. To deliver in the long term though, nationally important challenges need to be considered in the round with consensus and strategic direction.
The Crown Estate has reiterated its firm intention to launch the leasing round later this year. Recent delays in updates on the details of this process have caused understandable frustration amongst the thirty or so developers anxious to progress in the competitive Celtic Sea market. However, it is not easy to rush items such as; grid upgrades, ports development, scale-up of an industrial eco-system and the preparation of a workforce. Tim Stiven of The Crown Estate has made clear that 2023’s leasing for the Celtic Sea will serve as the template for future rounds – and it’s vital we get it right to ensure that Wales, Cornwall and the wider South West derive the generational benefits promised by FLOW.
The Crown Estate’s Celtic Sea leasing round will include new requirements for prospective developers to propose “Social Investment Plans”. As Tim Stiven made clear at the recent Celtic Sea FLOW Summit, this will place emphasis on high local content and workforce development. Such parameters may prove to be off-putting to some developers and some may already be worrying that their financial backers are getting cold feet. There are certainly attractive markets in the USA, Far East and Europe – but Wales, Cornwall and the South-West is undoubtedly in a very strong position. To be clear, the need for speed is not so much to do with developer anxiety however – it's to do with the export opportunity this represents for businesses based in Wales and the wider region. Moving rapidly may run a risk of compromising deliverability but, crucially, the sooner our supply chain gains experience and traction in building out FLOW – the greater the opportunity to export that expertise around the world.
Balancing the need for preparation against the need for pace is a tension right now, no doubt. In the fullness of time though, any such wobbles will be moot if we fail to appropriately plan for this generational opportunity for Wales, the South-West and Cornwall.
Business Development Manager
Celtic Sea Power