The Crown Estate has opened a new seabed leasing round, offering the rights to build at least 7GW of offshore wind in the waters around England and Wales.
It is making four areas available, within which potential developers will have the opportunity to bid for project sites. The areas are Dogger Bank; Eastern Regions; South East ; and Northern Wales and Irish Sea. A map of the four areas, together with further technical information, is available here. TCE said within these four areas, competent bidders will have the freedom to identify and propose their own project sites, supported and informed by the data and analysis it provides.
The Round 4 tender process, which will run until autumn 2020, includes:
- A three-stage tender process, evaluating bidders’ capability and proposed projects before using option fees to determine the award.
- Incentives for innovation. Developers will also have the opportunity to propose hybrid projects, such as those which integrate offshore wind with interconnection or other energy generation.
- Extended 60 year lease terms - (up from 50 years).
- Water depths out to 60m, which TCE says is suitable for fixed foundation technology.
- A requirement for developers to collate and share project surveys and data, and participate in sector benchmarking schemes, helping to build the evidence base in the sector, continue de-risking investment, and drive continued improvements in operational performance.
Following project award, The Crown Estate will undertake a plan level Habits Regulations Assessment, to assess the possible impact of the proposed sites on the relevant nature conservation sites of European importance. Subject to the outcome of the HRA, new seabed rights could be awarded as early as 2021,witha view to operation by the late 2020s.