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12 December 2023
Renewable Energy

The Starting Pistol in the Race for Commercial Offshore Wind Development in the Celtic Sea has been Fired

WRITTEN BY: 

Tom Hill, 

Programme Manager,

Marine Energy Wales

marine energy wales

The Crown Estate has unveiled further details of Round 5 of its offshore wind leasing competition, hailing it as a new chapter in the global offshore wind success story.

Floating Offshore Wind Leasing Round 5 offers the opportunity for three commercial-scale floating wind projects to take shape in the Celtic Sea, just off the coasts of South Wales and South West England. These three projects, which could become some of the biggest floating wind farms in the world, will have the potential to generate clean, renewable energy for over four million homes.

We’ve now reached a critical step in the leasing process, with the launch of The Crown Estate’s Information Memorandum – a document which lays out to developers the necessary information they need to prepare and submit bids to progress offshore wind projects and win a seabed lease.

Developing an offshore wind farm in UK waters, from initial concept through to commercial operation, can take up to ten years. The launch of Round 5 is seen as a major stride forward for both the industry and for Wales – it feels as though the starting pistol has been fired.

With a combined capacity of up to 4.5GW, these wind farms are expected to make up the first phase of commercial development in the region. The release of The Crown Estate's ‘Information Memorandum,' is a milestone that has been eagerly awaited by many developers, some of whom are already poised to begin work on obtaining a seabed lease – the first piece in the puzzle to building an offshore wind farm.

Marine Energy Wales is spearheading the development of floating offshore wind in Welsh waters through the Celtic Sea Developer Alliance (CSDA). We will continue to support our members through the CSDA, facilitating collaboration to advance the sector and ensure Wales and its communities receive the maximum possible benefit.

Key dates for Round 5 have been outlined in the Information Memorandum, suggesting that new agreements for lease could be awarded in Autumn 2025, with developers then progressing to seek planning consent for their projects through the statutory planning process.

The Round 5 leasing process will be made up of four stages, including pre-qualification and invitation to tender, before entry into agreements for lease. The process is an opportunity for bidders to demonstrate they meet the necessary legal, technical and financial eligibility criteria.

New features have been announced for Round 5 including a requirement for bidders to make commitments in relation to social and environmental value – this includes things like skills and training, and working with local communities.

The Information Memorandum was originally expected to be released earlier in 2023. Gus Jaspert, Managing Director, Marine at The Crown Estate said the document was the result of “extensive engagement” with an enormous array of stakeholders, statutory bodies, and government representatives.

In its recent Autumn Statement, the UK Government confirmed its intention to unlock space for up to a further 12GW of capacity in the Celtic Sea.

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