Leases signed by The Crown Estate take the UK's total offshore wind operational, construction, and planning pipeline to over 40GW
The UK pipeline for offshore wind projects has sailed past the 40GW capacity mark, with the Crown Estate confirming yesterday it has now signed lease agreements for another six extensions to existing farms in the waters around England and Wales.
The latest projects, which together have the potential to deliver 2.8GW of new capacity, form the culmination of the Crown Estate's 2017 offshore wind extensions round, which aims to unlock additional renewables capacity in support of the UK's net zero emissions goal by extending existing wind farms.
The Agreements for Lease comprise extensions for the Sheringham Shoal, Dudgeon, Greater Gabbard, Galloper, Rampion, and Gwynt y Môr offshore wind farms, in addition to the previously announced lease agreed for the proposed Thanet offshore wind farm extension.
With all projects having successfully passed their habitats and nature conservation assessments, developers will now move onto the environmental assessments and surveys before seeking planning consent to secure connections to the grid, said the Crown Estate.
Alongside yesterday's extension announcements, the Crown Estate is also forging ahead with Offshore Wind Leasing Round 4 aimed at unlocking new areas of the UK's seabed for another 7GW of new projects. Combined with the existing portfolio of projects already in operation, construction, and planning, it said this would take the UK's total offshore wind pipeline to in excess of 40GW.
"Reaching this stage marks an important milestone in the UK portfolio, demonstrating strong market appetite and further strengthening the UK offshore wind pipeline," said Will Apps, head of energy development, at the Crown Estate. "Extensions projects offer a valuable way of enabling new, low cost offshore wind capacity, making efficient use of our world-class seabed resources and building on developers' existing project knowledge and infrastructure. Each project has the potential to play a vital role in supporting the nation's clean energy transition and we look forward to following their progress as they move through the planning process."
In order to take the proposed Greater Gabbard Offshore Wind Farm extension forward to the next stage, co-owners of the existing project RWE and SSE Renewables have set up a new equal joint venture company, the two energy giants announced yesterday.
The extension project, which would double the site's 504MW power capacity to the site, has been given a separate name - North Falls Offshore Wind Farm - and is set to be located at the southern tip of the existing project, which is located more than 20km off the east coast of England.
The next stage of offshore surveys, engineering design, stakeholder consultation, and community engagement for the extension is now expected to take another three years before the two firms can submit a final Development Consent Order to the Planning Inspectorate for approval in 2023.
"North Falls Offshore Wind Farm will build on the successful offshore wind legacy in the East of England," said Paul Cooley, director of capital projects at SSE Renewables. "We're looking forward to working with RWE Renewables to create more clean energy, create more jobs and move towards a net zero future."
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