The anticipation surrounding the next offshore wind leasing round has intensified after the Crown Estate set out its views on the leasing and stakeholder engagement process. In a presentation to the Offshore Wind Industry Council the organisation suggested round 4 could start later this year or early in 2019.
The Crown Estate announced confirmed it was considering the next leasing round in November last year (EIA+P 09-Nov-17) after the government had backed offshore wind in the Clean Growth Strategy (EIA+P 18-Oct-17). This was helped by the huge cost reduction in offshore wind energy achieved in the last contracts for difference auction (EIA+P 12-Sep-17).
The potential for new seabed rights in undeveloped areas means the Crown Estate will not consider applications for extensions to existing offshore wind farms after the 31 May 2018. This is to avoid the need to have two consenting processes running simultaneously. The Crown Estate intends to run a programme of stakeholder engagement workshops into new leasing sites this summer.
The presentation provided to the OWIC summarised the lessons learned to date and an analysis of the current offshore wind market. Currently, the UK has 5GW of installed capacity meeting around 5% of the UK’s electricity demand. A further 4GW is under construction, 2.2GW has CfDs in place, while 6.1GW is consented. The Clean Growth Strategy suggested a further 10GW could be developed in order to meet the UK’s low carbon ambitions and provide security of supply.