Crown Estate moves forward on new offshore wind energy leases

A new generation of offshore wind projects is set to be launched off the coast of Scotland after the Crown Estate confirmed plans to lease seabed plots to new schemes.

The sites will be identified in Marine Scotland’s forthcoming Sectoral Marine Plan for Offshore Wind, Crown Estate Scotland said in a paper published this week. The land management body has also asked for feedback to shape its proposals.

The organisation hopes to support the development of a local supply chain and innovative new products as well as creating jobs and stimulating the local economy.

There are currently two operational offshore projects on leases issued by Crown Estate Scotland– Robin Rigg and Hywind – and two under construction – Beatrice and the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC). More are slated for construction soon, but the organisation notes that work must start now to ensure a pipeline of new projects are built from the late 2020s onwards.

Sites in territorial waters (out to 12 nautical miles) and the Renewable Energy Zone (from 12 nautical miles out to 200 nautical miles) will be considered. Multiple cycles of leasing are likely to be run, with 24-month intervals between each cycle, the report added.

New offshore wind capacity will form a key plank of the Scottish energy mix as Holyrood pushes to expand renewable energy to meet half of the country’s heat, transport and electricity energy needs by 2030.

Once provisional project designs are submitted, Marine Scotland and Crown Estate Scotland will also evaluate grid connection capacity and draw up plans in response. “This means that Marine Scotland’s strategic planning and Crown Estate Scotland’s leasing can cater for new offshore wind capacity which goes beyond that which could be accommodated by the grid as it is today,” the report noted, although build times and the cost of connections in certain locations will also be factored into consideration.

The money Crown Estate Scotland earns from offshore renewables leases goes to the Scottish government.

“Using our seas to power Scotland is an important part of our economic and environmental well-being,” the group’s senior energy & infrastructure manager John Robertson said. “To provide affordable, secure and clean energy, Scotland must continue to sustainably use its natural resources and grow the offshore wind sector.”

“The potential benefits of offshore renewable energy to Scotland are enormous,” said Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform. “That is why it is important that Crown Estate Scotland makes available the right seabed locations at the right time, in order to contribute to delivery of our energy strategy, attract inward investment, develop new technology and continue to drive down the associated costs of offshore energy.”

Following feedback on the report, Crown Estate Scotland says it plans to launch its final leasing process in late 2018 or early 2019.