European Offshore Wind Gets Big Boost from Crown Estate

The British government last week gave the go-ahead for offshore wind farm development in new areas, which could see the installation of ten times more than Europe’s existing European offshore wind energy capacity. A total of nine development zones – with a capacity of just over 32 gigawatts (GW) – have been allocated to 12 European companies following a competitive tender.

“These are European companies building a European industry and generating some 45,000 European jobs,” said Justin Wilkes, policy director of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). “It takes Europe closer to exploiting the power of our seas and developing a brand new European offshore wind industry. Offshore wind is Europe’s largest untapped energy source. There is enough wind across Europe’s seas to power Europe seven times over.”

The 32 GW is part of the over 100 GW of offshore wind power currently being planned by European utilities, developers, and governments, mostly in the North Sea. Once operational this 100 GW plus would supply 10% of Europe’s electricity. In order to connect these farms to the electricity grid, EWEA has proposed a 20 year grid development plan.

This year the European Commission will publish a Blueprint for a North Sea grid. This Blueprint was described by the Commission’s 2008 second Strategic Energy Review as aiming to “interconnect national electricity grids in north-west Europe together and plug-in the numerous planned offshore wind projects.”

“The 32GW of installed capacity proposed by the offshore wind energy developers for 2020 would supply a quarter of the UK’s electricity needs. This means the UK will have a secure and low carbon electricity supply. In addition, the UK economy will benefit as offshore wind is a growth industry that will create new businesses and jobs as well as attracting inward investment,” said Roger Bright CB, Chief Executive of The Crown Estate.

One of the zones was allocted to EDP Renováveis (EDPR) and SeaEnergy PLC. The acreage is in Moray Firth, Scotland and could provide for an approximate installed capacity of 1.3 GW. Under the terms of the development agreement, signed by EDPR, SeaEnergy Renewables Limited (SERL) and The Crown Estate, the companies have been awarded the exclusive rights to develop wind farm sites within the zone.

EDPR and SERL have formed Moray Offshore Renewables Limited (MORL) to develop the zone and the Agreement provides SERL with the right to retain a 25% working interest in MORL and all designated windfarm developments within the zone, whilst EDPR holds a 75% interest.

The awards were announced following The Crown Estate’s Round 3 Offshore Wind application process, which aims to deliver 25 GW of wind power installed capacity. Forty applicants put forward applications for the nine zones which The Crown Estate opened to tender in June 2008.

All parties have now signed exclusive Zone Development Agreements with The Crown Estate, who has responsibility for renewable energy in UK waters, to take the proposals through the planning and consenting phase. The entire list of consortia that were zones to develop projects and their potential capacitites is below.

  • Moray Firth Zone: EDP Renováveis and SeaEnergy Renewables – 1.3 GW
  • Firth of Forth Zone: SSE Renewables and Fluor – 3.5 GW
  • Dogger Bank Zone: SSE Renewables, RWE Npower Renewables, Statoil and Statkraft – 9 GW
  • Hornsea Zone: Siemens Project Ventures and Mainstream Renewable Power – 4 GW
  • Norfolk Bank Zone: Scottish Power Renewables and Vattenfall Vindkraft – 7.2 GW
  • Hastings Zone: E.ON Climate and Renewables UK – 600 MW
  • West of Isle of Wight Zone: Eneco New Energy – 900 MW
  • Bristol Channel Zone: RWE Npower Renewables – 1.5 GW
  • Irish Sea Zone: Centrica Renewable Energy and RES Group – 4.2 GW

Andrew Mill, CEO of Narec, technology advisor to the Crown Estate, believes that the announcement of the project development consortia that awarded licences for the development of UK Crown Estate Round Three Offshore Wind Farms, is a huge step forward for the UK, marking a major tipping point for the future of offshore renewables.

The announcement of consortia to develop new capacity is fundamental and the stature of those companies awarded contracts provides great confidence that targets will be achieved.  An additional 25,000MW of capacity could be generated in the UK as a result and on such a large scale, a new approach is required from industry across the supply chain to ensure delivery, he said.

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